Park restrooms continue to be public issue

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times The Indian Acres Park restroom remains locked Wednesday as Williamstown teenagers ride at the Indian Acres Skate Park.

Marietta’s parks are seeing plenty of activity in the late spring season, but a lack of restroom facilities continues to be a problem for many who enjoy the public spaces.

There are open public restrooms at the Armory, 241 Front St., and the Marietta Harbor but none in Marietta’s parks, though city officials said they’re working on greater access.

“There’s usually a port-a-potty around that’s unlocked, but I try to avoid those unless absolutely necessary,” said Amy Lamb, as she watched her 8-year-old son Eli playing at Gold Star Park Wednesday.

The park had one portable restroom open, though not accessible by wheelchair and emanating the telltale smells of the plastic bathrooms.

The park’s ADA-accessible restrooms between the basketball courts and the playground were locked, as Eli’s friends Carson Prunty, 8, and Isaiah Winters, 6, found out while Lamb spoke.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times With only access to a portable bathroom and the brick-and-mortar bathroom locked, Eli Lemley, left, spins at Gold Star Park with friends Carson Prunty, center, and Warner Durham, Wednesday.

They ended up traipsing up the hill to the port-a-potty instead, also not able to utilize the park’s Harmar Hill Community Building across the parking lot because of locked doors.

“It’s not that bad with this age,” said Lamb. “But when I have my 3-year-old, or we’re at baseball games it can be tough.”

Down at Indian Acres Park, the same concern was raised as 11-year-olds Will Tornes, Zach Birge and Carson Strahler ran fielding, hitting and pitching drills with their coach Marc Warden at the Marietta Monsters field Wednesday.

“You’ll see women and little kids run and bounce off the bathrooms here and then spin around and look for another option,” described Warden. “Last night during the game there were plenty of people from Beverly looking for a restroom and the only one open was all the way over by the aquatic center. It comes up a lot that there aren’t enough restrooms.”

Marietta Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber said Wednesday that both the Gold Star Park and Flanders Field restrooms were shut down last year after flush systems were vandalized.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Marc Warden, left, runs fielding drills with, from left to right, Will Tornes, 11, Zach Birge, 11, and Carson Strahler, 12, at the Marietta Monsters field in Indian Acres Park Wednesday.

“Tanner (Huffman, public facilities foreman) is in the process of changing out those systems with finalization predicted in mid-July,” said Dauber. “The Indian Acres Park was suffering from people leaving trash around, too. But the police are supposed to unlock in the mornings and then close up with the turnover to the evening shift, so I can put out a memo reminding them to lock and unlock that one.”

Dauber said he is also looking into ADA accessibility concerns at Gold Star Park, where there is also a monument, erected last year, which elderly veterans visit.

Across town in Buckeye Park, vandalism has also been a long-time issue, said Huffman. Those permanent bathrooms have remained locked for years with only a port-a-potty in place.

Haas Portable Toilets owns the port-a-potties and cleans and maintains them, though a contract with the city.

At a glance:

• Public restrooms are open at the Armory, 241 Front St., and the Marietta Harbor on the River Trail.

• Portable toilets are sometimes unlocked at Indian Acres Park, Gold Star Park and Flanders Field.

• The Marietta Police Department is supposed to unlock the public brick-and-mortar restrooms at Indian Acres during the day and relock at night.

Source: Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber.