Two years after Avon Lake City Council tabled plans to build a restroom in Belle Road Park, a group is hoping to resurrect plans, albeit in a slightly different area.
In 2010, residents living on Armour and Belle roads near the 3-acre park objected to plans to build a restroom there, saying it could invite vandalism, sex and bring undesirables to the area, which is near a residential area.
The park, although city property, is part of the Kopf Family Reservation (formerly Save the Woods), a sprawling 162-acre passive park with three and a half miles of trails. Dedicated in 2008 as a county metropark, it is one of only a few Lorain County Metro Parks that does not have a restroom.
Restroom supporters, including Jan Van Wagner and Terry and Diana Wyrock, are collecting signatures to again have council review the option.
Terry Wyrock said the bathroom is necessary to accommodate what his group says are the 175,000 visitors each year, who heed the call of nature even if restrooms aren’t readily available.
He also said having restrooms is a sanitary issue.
“I’ve had confessions,” he said, “from young mothers with kids. And guess what. Their kids are going in the woods. Adults are going in the woods. Is that what (the homeowners) really want to see?”
The proposed building would be about the size of a two-car garage and have one men’s, one women’s and a handicapped-accessible bathroom.
The bathrooms would be open from 8 a.m. through dusk, when they would be locked and under the jurisdiction, like the entire park, of the Lorain County Metro Park. Plans also call for security cameras, lighting and motion detectors surrounding the building.
The trio has collected almost 1,500 signatures for an informal petition they want to present to City Hall.
Diana Wyrock said she heard concerns that if a bathroom were put in, a concession stand could be net.
“There’s no intention for that,” she said. “This is a passive park.”
She also noted that since the park was dedicated and improved with walking trails and benches, there were less people drinking alcohol and “hanging out” in the woods.
Van Wagner, one of the individuals who led the drive to turn the area—formerly mapped as a housing development—said the current proposal places the restroom deeper into Belle Road Park and farther from homes. Belle Road Park, which connects the north eastern part of Kopf Reservation to the south western woods, currently has a swing set, water fountain and picnic tables.
Van Wagner said the location is ideal, since the nearest public restrooms are in the Avon Lake Public Library.
“I know too many people who can’t walk this park because there aren’t bathrooms nearby,” Van Wagner said.
Metro Parks wants out of the fray
Similar to the first effort to install restrooms in 2010, the Lorain County Metro Parks would bear the cost of the restrooms. The plan met strong opposition at the time, and then-Metro Park director Dan Martin asked the city to table the issue.
Currnt Lorain County Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik said whether bathrooms are installed is up to the city.
Ziemnik, recalling the opposition the city saw back in 2010 said the Metro Parks will heed what the city wants.
“We’re not going to stick ourselves in a battle between the mayor, city hall and the residents,” Ziemnik said. “We don’t want to go where we’re not wanted.
“We’re not opposed to a bathroom, but were not going to stick ourselves in the middle of a political fight. We would obviously need the cooperation of the city to tap into utilities, such as water and electricity.”
Should city hall approve the concept of a restroom for the park, Ziemnik said the MetroParks could put it back on its agenda, but residents shouldn’t expect to see the restrooms in the next year.
“Hypothetically if they approved legislation today, 2013 would be the earliest we could review it and 2014 is the earliest it could be built. But it’s not on my radar right now.”
2013 would be the earliest for 2014. It’s not on my radar right now.
Bathroom supporters will continue to collect signatures through Homecoming week in October before submitting the petition to council.
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