PI Editorial: Gotta go now, in replacing downtown Glenwood toilets
There’s a lot for Glenwood Springs to prioritize when it comes to rebuilding the area along Seventh Street and in the 700 block of Grand Avenue beneath the brand-spankin’ new highway bridge.
What can’t wait, though, is replacement of the city’s only downtown public restrooms, which had to be removed to make way for the new bridge structure.
Whether it’s a temporary trailer unit with separate men’s and women’s facilities and regular maintenance, or a first-class permanent restroom facility in the first phase of the planned improvements, the city must make this a priority for the coming summer tourist season.
Staring at some $5.5 million in costs to transform Seventh Street and the under-bridge area into the kind of public plaza and festival street that has been envisioned by city officials and the Downtown Development Authority, it’s understandable that the project will need to be phased over multiple years.
And, the city has a lot on its plate to prioritize when it comes to public infrastructure projects, from the planned downtown and Sixth Street corridor improvements, replacement of the 27th Street bridge and continued planning for a south Midland Avenue rebuild and confluence-area development.
But a city that promotes itself as a tourist destination must have certain, necessary facilities that every other tourist town has to make things pleasant for our visitors, and anyone frequenting our downtown. Public restrooms somewhere in the downtown core not tied to a facility that has limited hours, such as City Hall or the Glenwood Springs Library, are simply a must.
Downtown merchants have already had a tough go of it during the extended bridge construction project, and last year’s three-month bridge closure and Colorado Highway 82 detour that severely impacted business. We need to welcome not only tourists but locals back to our downtown core to show off the much-anticipated final product.
For the past two years they’ve had to inform desperate walk-ins, many with young children, that there are no public restrooms in the vicinity. Expecting them to open their own facilities to people in need is an extra burden they shouldn’t have to bear.
Even before the new bridge was built, the former public restrooms situated beneath the old bridge were anything but a pleasant experience. It was no major loss when they went away.
But a reasonable plan with a set timeline for their replacement should have been put in place by city and bridge project officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation at that time.
Now, with the bridge project about to conclude and no plan, it’s up to the city to decide when that will occur. Options include replacing them in the same location, or finding another location, such as the former north bridge landing where the city is soliciting design proposals for a public plaza of some sort. Or maybe both.
Lisa Langer, tourism promotion director for Glenwood Springs, recently offered a temporary solution, at least for this summer. To get us by, a mobile restroom unit similar to those found at festivals and other large events, could be brought in and parked in a convenient downtown location to be determined.
Sure, it’s not the most attractive piece of architecture to grace our downtown, but it’s a decent solution for the short term. And, as we’ve all been saying during the course of the bridge project, keep an eye on the end prize.
When it comes to the envisioned Seventh Street plaza and festival street fronting Glenwood’s “restaurant row,” a grand prize it will be.
Imagine a day when Glenwood’s Downtown Market, concerts, street dances, weekend festivals, art shows and other events grace the Glenwood riverfront.
In the meantime, if some of the “frills” have to wait in favor of getting some public restrooms in place sooner rather than later, then so be it. To be certain, this is an urgent request.