A recent survey indicates strong support for public restrooms in Garberville and Redway, according to Bob Froelich of the Garberville-Redway Public Restrooms Working Group.
The working group received 173 responses to surveys published in the Redwood Times and the Independent in late July. The survey asked six questions, including whether the reader supports public restrooms in the area, which of four locations he or she supports, and finally whether an "exterior area surveillance monitoring system for safety would be appropriate for the public restroom areas."
Eighty-seven percent of those responding said they support public restrooms, with only nine percent opposed, and five percent undecided.
Of the four sites suggested, "co-location" with an HTA bus shelter on the south end of Garberville received the most support. Eighty-three of respondents liked this site, 14 percent said no, and only four percent were undecided.
A location "somewhere in central Redway" also received significant support at 76 percent, and a 61 percent majority of respondents also supported a restroom at Jim DeMulling Veterans Park.
The Garberville Town Square received the least amount of support as a restroom site, with only 55 percent saying yes to this location, a result which surprised Froelich.
The surveillance monitoring system was extremely unpopular, garnering only 19 percent support with 70 percent of the respondents opposed the idea, and 11 percent undecided.
Froelich felt that 173 responses was a good return for a newspaper survey. Nearly all the surveys were mailed in to the working group’s post office box, but they also received some electronically, a few were hand-delivered to members of the group, and picked up at Redwood Times office in Garberville.
Each survey was numbered and stapled to its envelope when received to avoid duplication. "I’ll stake my reputation that the survey results are copacetic," said Froelich, adding that people are welcome to look at the responses if they wish.
Some respondents added comments or suggestions in space provided on the surveys, and many of those were favorable, Froelich added. Comments will be "scrutinized and compiled," he said. "We want to enlist public support and hear people’s concerns."
Besides the surveys, the working group has been giving presentations at the meetings of the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce, the Garberville Town Square board, the Healy Senior Center board, and the governing board of the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District.
Working group representatives have also met with Greg Pratt, the director of the Humboldt Transit Authority, about coordinating a restroom with construction of a bus shelter at the south Garberville HTA bus stop.
Half a dozen HTA buses make this location the southern terminus for local service. Greyhound and Amtrak buses stop at or close to this location every day as well. The restroom would be built in conjunction with the HTA bus shelter and would be in the county right of way.
Members of the working group have also been investigating restroom designs that work well in other towns. The ideal design is the now-famous Portland Loo, described on its website as "a safe, clean urban toilet that is ADA/family friendly and affordable."
"They’re almost indestructible, graffiti-proof, and have solar lighting," Froelich said.
But at approximately $100,000 each, Portland Loos are not affordable for Southern Humboldt. Local contractor Jim Truitt has been working on designs for a cheaper unit that can be made locally but which would incorporate some of the most useful features of the Portland Loo, such as a lattice-like strip at the bottom that allows someone on the outside to know if the loo is occupied without embarrassing the user.
The Garberville-Redway Working Group has applied to the state of California to become an "unincorporated non-profit association," similar to but less formal than a non-profit corporation, so that it can collect funds, open bank accounts, and receive tax-exempt status. The group is also considering seeking an existing non-profit corporation to umbrella them.
Froelich said that the working group will hold a public meeting "before we go too much further," but he added that they plan to continue researching sites, funding, and designs so they can present feasible options to the public.
For more information or to express your opinion on public restrooms and appropriate sites, email the working group at email@example.com.