Where do you go when you need to go?
It’s always been tough to find a public bathroom in downtown Portland. But now there’s the potential to install three more.
Burke’s Perks has a small space in Monument Square. Even customers aren’t allowed to use their bathroom.
“I can’t because it’s behind the kitchen and I can’t have people walking through the kitchen, unfortunately,” Burke’s Perks owner Erica Burke said.
It’s a regular problem at many neighboring businesses, with staff explaining to customers that there’s no public place to go.
“So they could definitely be used in this area because there’s just not enough of them,” Nura owner Dylan Gardener said.
That could change soon.
A proposed plan calls for putting a public bathroom on Monument Way, another by the Portland Fish Pier and a third behind the Central Fire Station.
“We’ve been pushing for it for a long time,” Portland Downtown Executive Director Cary Tyson said.
But the pandemic has highlighted the need.
And now with about $600,000 in American Rescue Plan funds set aside by the city, this can move forward.
“It’s going to take some resources, but I think these are investments not just expenditures and they’re going to pay multiple fold,” Tyson said.
Some are worried how these facilities will be managed.
“There are definitely some loitering concerns that we already have in Monument Square,” Gardener said.
“Who’s going to clean it [and] how often?” Burke said. “I don’t really want the smell to come down here to my seating area inside and out.”
The city and its partners want this feedback, which was scheduled to be the subject of a 5:30 p.m. Wednesday virtual meeting.
They’ll be showing off proposed designs, which city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said will be similar to one installed in Deering Oaks.
And leaders will explain how they plan on addressing safety and cleanliness.
“We’re certainly aware of the operational aspects of this and we’ll do the best that we can,” Grondin said.