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  • Last modified 1938 days ago (May 30, 2013)

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Public sounds off on park restrooms

Staff writer

A crowd of nearly two dozen residents expressed concern Tuesday night about plans to locate new restrooms in Central Park.

The first seven speakers reached a consensus location for park restrooms — where the gazebo currently stands.

However, all of the discussion mattered little. Heitschmidt, who is a Marion City council member, made a point of stating twice that the city council would determine the fate of park bathrooms.

“No matter what they recommend,” Heitschmidt said of the planning commission. “The city council can approve something completely different.”

The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit to build park restrooms with the condition that the building meet city codes.

The commission agreed with Heitschmidt the decision would be up to the City Council to determine the location of the restrooms. The council will hear a presentation at the June 10 meeting.

“The city council should set aesthetic standards for the community,” White read from city ordinances. “I think the city’s responsibility is to set the standard for everybody.”

Commission member Paul White said all of the proposed locations — eastside of the parks where swings are located, the westside of the park near the flagpole, and where the restrooms/gazebos currently stand — met city guidelines for a conditional use permit.

“Personally I prefer the east,” White said. “Nobody likes the west.”

Over the course of the hour-long public hearing, each location’s virtues and flaws were dissected in kind.

Where the gazebo is currently located, the proposed 26x20 foot building, including three bathrooms stalls in each bathroom, could possibly be an obstruction in the middle of the park.

“This is a rather large building,” Ron Herbel said. “We may have to redesign this.”

The central location would also require a new lift station, costing about $12,000, and possibly a new sewer line, according to Heitschmidt.

The central location would also take out the second phase of the park, which would be to build a new gazebo building.

“If we, as a community, determine the existing location is OK and existing line is OK, all we have to do is replace the lift station and pump,” Commission member Ruth Herbel said.

The eastside location would be the most isolated and accessible, next to the gravel driveway, but it would also require a new lift station. It would have a different sewer line, located on the north side of Main Street than the central location.

Everyone who spoke bashed the westside location.

“I’m terribly against putting it up by the flag poles because those are memorials,” Joan Meyer said.

However, the westside location, because of its elevation would not require a lift station.

Other sites were mentioned. Way in the back of the park was a common idea, but was denied by Heitschmidt and commission member Margo Yates because of Police Department concerns for safety. A couple speakers recommended putting bathrooms outside of the park. Safety concerns and property issues were voiced for those areas.

By the end of the public hearing, Commission member Dick Varenhorst was not sure what the commission was supposed to vote on.

“I don’t want to tell you how many stalls to put in, but I’d like to know more than I know now,” Varenhorst said. “Once you decide where you want the building to go, then we can give a conditional use permit.”

Last modified May 30, 2013

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