Should porta potties be set up to accommodate anticipated larger crowds at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool this summer?
The aldermen Monday night decided to check with the health department to find out if inspectors would approve porta potties, even if only on a temporary basis until the city decides if it wants to build a permanent restroom facility there.
Restrooms are already available at the golf course for swimmers but after an increase in pool activity last summer, Alderman Steve White said more restroom facilities are needed. The issue has been raised more than once in recent months but so far no action has been taken.
Alderman White, who presided over the meeting Monday night in Mayor Taft Hendrixson's absence due to an illness, brought up the subject again. 'We talked about this back in December, and here it is April and we're still not any further along than what we were then," said White
Alderman Danny Washer suggested that since pool season opens soon, the city should look into the possibility of setting up porta potties, at least for this year to gauge how much they are used and to perhaps look at a long-term fix for next year, if there is a need. "To see how its going to work out, why not get porta potties for this year, because its going to push us right now," said Washer. "Try porta potties that are handicapped accessible. They have them. They come with sinks in them. They maintain them and everything. Try that for this season and see how that works out and that will give us plenty of time to see what we need to do for next year," said Washer.
Alderman White objected to the porta potty idea, saying he thought it might pose a sanitary health concern and environmental risk to the pool, especially if vandals were to turn them over. "I would be definitely against the porta potties just because of the sanitary part of it, with it being a temporary thing, and the vandalism thing. I'm also pretty sure that the porta potties would not be approved by the health department either," said White.
Alderman Gayla Hendrix said porta potties might be the answer in the short term, especially during peak usage times at the pool, until a plan can be drawn up and proposed for permanent restroom facilities. She said the aldermen need to see a plan that includes costs estimates and where such a building would be erected on the grounds. "As he (Washer) was saying for this season, maybe try this especially during the busiest weekends. But we need to see a plan. We discussed maybe something like they have at the lake, concrete blocks with maybe two women and two mens (restrooms). Where are you going to put it? Are you going to put it in front of the pool? Are you going to put it behind the pool? We don't have a drawing. We don't know what we're looking at. We don't know how much money and pool season starts in six weeks," said Hendrix.
Alderman White replied "What I'm talking about is something similar like we did out there at the airport (park). With our employees doing most of the work, probably five to six thousand dollars would fund a four commode bathroom."
Alderman Hendrix asked "Why don't we check on the cost of having the handicapped accessible porta potties for the busiest times and weekends at the pool? Then Hunter (Hendrixson) can look up what it cost to build the bathrooms at the airport park. We can look a little bit closer at the pool area and come up with a feasible place to put it. I think the front of the pool would not be a good idea. I think that would look bad. Maybe if we can get an estimate on prices and get a design and a place, it might be something we can have completed by the end of the season. We're coming up here and discussing it but we're not bringing any concrete information," said Hendrix.
Meanwhile, Alderman White said existing bathroom stalls at the golf course will have to be modified to make them handicapped accessible, but he added that this would not be too expensive.
The city is also apparently making plans to purchase a portable chairlift to make the pool more handicapped accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADA requirements were to have been met by March 15th, but officials say the U.S. Justice Department has granted the hotel industry at least a 60-day extension for complying with a new rule aimed at making existing hotel pools compliant. City officials say that extension also applies locally.