Two years ago, when supporters of constructing a bathroom in Belle Road Park approached council, a group of residents from the area voiced their concerns and the issue was tabled.
Now, council will decide whether the issue needs to be re-explored.
Almost a dozen residents, many from Belle Road, told council on Nov. 5 they did not want the proposed bathrooms, the size of a two-car garage, in the park, which joins two wooded sections of Kopf Reservation.
“My personal preference is to not have a toilet across the street,” one resident said. “It’s going to increase traffic.”
Residents James and Jeannie Waddell said there is no need. They have offered their home’s facilities to park visitors and said no one has ever taken them up on the offer.
“I know it will be a nice facility,” but “it doesn’t fit in,” Jeannie Waddell said. “The idea of having a restroom there is kind of creepy.”
She added the park, lacking amenities like soccer and baseball fields, is not a “destination park” and isn’t needed.
Armour Road resident Joe Archacki said research recommends bathrooms at the end of the trailhead, which in this case ends behind the Avon Lake Public Library.
Armour Road resident Kevin O'Toole said his research led him to the national The American Restroom Association, which recommends bathrooms if a park has 2,000 visitors daily. The Lorain County MetroParks, which has jurisdiction over including Belle Road Park, estimates the park receives approximately 170,000 per year. Armour Road dead ends at Belle Road Park.
“You need 2,000 visitors a day for a public restroom,” O’Toole said. “The library is within 5K of every inch of the park.
“We’re not even close.”
Other residents were concerned about parking and crime.
Support from bathroom supporters
Several people spoke of the need for bathrooms. A group collected more than 2,000 signatures supporting bathrooms, on a petition they submitted to council and the mayor.
Terry Wyrock and Jan VanWagner, who were involved in helping create the park years ago, said there is a need.
Wyrock spoke passionately at council.
“We have a lot of people very interested in this petition,” Wyrock said.
He added it was a sanitary issue.
“There were quite a few people forced to use the woods,” Wyrock said.
Wyrock said bathroom detractors were not considering the many homes surrounding the rest of the park who are forced to view people adhering nature’s call on park property that adjoins theirs.
“You’re putting people in a position where they may have to look out the window and see someone going to the bathroom in the woods,” Wyrock said. “It’s extremely degrading to those people (using the woods as a bathroom.
“There’s a small minority of people who don’t give a damn.”
VanWagner said bathrooms were part of the park plan, from the beginning.
Constructing bathrooms, which would consist of a men’s, women’s and handicap bathrooms, would cost approximately $100,000. The expense would be borne by the MetroParks, who have indicated they would not move ahead with the project without the city’s approval.
Council president Martin O’Donnell said the bathrooms would need to go through council’s Public Service Committee, the Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning Commission O’Donnell estimated that process could go through early February.
“It could be built, if it happened, in 2014-15,” O’Donnell said. “People can raise concerns to council and the mayor.”