The Columbus Dispatch
Portable toilets to remain Downtown
City spending $51K to keep them another year
The threat of losing several portable toilets Downtown has been eliminated with more than $50,000 coming from the city of Columbus to maintain them.
“The porta johns will stay in place for another year!,” said Lisa Defendiefer, deputy director of operations and advocacy for the Capital Crossroads and Discovery special improvement districts.
Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Capitol Crossroads ambassadors patrolled the streets and performed cleanup tasks, increasingly removing human waste. Businesses had closed Downtown, including most government offices and Main Library, and access to restrooms was scarce.
“We would see more excrement out there that we would have to clean up,” said Marc Conte, executive director of Capitol Crossroads Special Improvement District. At the time, officials weren’t sure how the virus was spreading and didn’t want to put their employees at risk.
So the district placed nine portable toilets, mostly along High Street, from the Arena District south to the Franklin County Justice Center.
“They were just getting really tremendous usage,” said Conte.
With the resurgence of delta and now omicron variants of the virus, and many shops and restaurants closing again, the waste problem continued, just as money was about to run out to maintain the toilets.
The city is providing $51,000, enough to maintain the toilets for another year.
Project Works, a vocational services agency, has a small crew that power washes, cleans and replenishes toilet paper daily, said Rich Gilmore, vocational services director. The company that rents the toilets is responsible for emptying them, he said.
And a permanent solution is in the works.
The city of Columbus is making available about $875,000 in federal funds to install five permanent restrooms, kiosklike structures that are modeled after the Portland Loo found in Oregon’s largest city.
Conte said that the earliest that they can be installed is September of 2022. Where they will be placed has to be decided.
“We’re still taking to adjacent property owners,” Conti said. email@example.com @Deannarciso