Toilet Tempest: Local Residents Protest New Proposed Desiderio Park Restroom

Residents cite location, safety fears, despite Commission’s lack of jurisdiction over such issues

Published : Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 4:59 AM

City Council

Despite numerous reminders by Design Commission Chair Yong Yoo that the commission had no jurisdiction over placement, safety concerns, or even the existence of a proposed new public restroom for Desiderio Park, numerous residents came before the commission Tuesday evening at City Hall to discuss those very issues.

“We are not deciding whether the restroom can be there or not,” said Yoo.

“It’s a mistake,” said resident Stacy Fortner, the first speaker, irrespective of Yoo’s admonitions.

“There are 30 children there [at a child care center],” she continued, “and it’s right underneath a jump spot [referring to people who commit suicide by jumping off the Colorado Street Bridge].”

She added, “There are places around the restroom where people can hide, and it’s an eyesore.”

Desiderio Neighborhood Park sits on the western portion of the former Desiderio Army Reserve Center site at the northeast corner of South Arroyo Boulevard and Westminster Drive. According to a Public Works Department staff report, the overall design for a new park on the property was reviewed by the Recreation and Parks Commission on July 8, 2014 and the contract for construction of the park — without the proposed restroom building — was approved by the City Council on January 8, 2018.

A new Habitat for Humanity housing development also occupies nearby space on South Arroyo Bouevard.

The 875 square feet, 12’9″ high restroom building is proposed for the northernmost portion of the site, just north of the Colorado Street Bridge, which crosses the park overhead. The building would be sited close to the parking lot for the park, oriented to the north with a pathway providing pedestrian access to it along its north façade, the report noted.

The proposed structure would be rectangular, clad in painted fiber-cement lap siding in two colors, bearing a side­-gabled roof with exposed, extended beams and deep eaves, and designed to reference the “Craftsman” style, in two shades of brown—Sherwin Williams “French Roast” and “Cast Iron”—textured with simulated wood grain.

Four pairs of flat, hollow metal doors are proposed on the side and rear elevations, each with a panel of ventilation louvers above, in addition to a single matching door on the rear, and a fixed panel of louvers at the north end of the east and west elevations. These openings are surrounded by trim elements consistent with the Craftsman style referenced in the design, according to the Commission’s report.

But the various design elements took a back seat to the evening’s public comment discussion, which continued to center around the building’s existence, siting, and safety issues, none of which were the commission’s purview.

“This building is just too big,” said nearby resident Ann Scheid, who favored a more simple “National Park” style with a single lockable room.

“Three things,” added resident Louis Hashimoto. “It’s too large, it’s too expensive, and it’s not safe.”

Although a number of residents have previously expressed concerns in the past year over the proposed building’s proximity to the Colorado Street Bridge, one city staffer told the Commission that the restroom “is too far away for jumpers to land on.”

Commissioner Andrea Rawlings voiced concerns over the shape of the roof of the proposed design, saying that it should be turned and modified, along with a number of smaller design changes.

Eventually the Commission voted to request that Public Works return, most likely in May, with new plans that incorporate roof and design changes.

Chair Yoo acknowledged both the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction in safety and location issues for the restroom, as well as the community’s concerns, and told the audience that their points were “well taken.”

“Do you what you need to do,” he told them.

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