Parks officials work to keep restrooms open

Kitsap County Parks and Recreation officials are working to provide year-round restroom services in about a dozen county parks in order to decrease the inconvenience of off-season visitors.

The situation was discussed this week at a work-study meeting of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, at which time operations superintendent Bev Reeves presented all the options.

At a previous work-study session, the commissioners heard a proposal to install timed locks on the doors so the bathrooms would be inaccessible after dark.

At the time, Parks and Recreation Department head Cris Gears said the option was too costly.

Park employees are encouraged to take vacations in the off-peak months. As a result, the department is under-staffed during the winter and does not have the manpower to visit 12 parks to lock and unlock bathrooms.

Reeves brought up another obstacle, noting the bathrooms were not designed for winter use. They are enclosed by screens and are unheated. Discomfort aside, Reeves said leaving the bathrooms operational through the winter would result in frozen pipes.

This, she said, was the main reason the toilets are closed after Oct. 1. As for other options, the standard port-a-potty isn’t the most favorable solution due to its vulnerability to vandalism.

“We have to rent these,” she said. “And if they get vandalized we are out $1,400.”

A better solution, she said, is the “vault toilet,” semi-permanent structures with no running water.

Vault toilets need to be pumped regularly but have a less-detrimental environmental impact than portable toilets. Reeves said the toilets have become more of an issue in recent years, as people use the parks year-round.

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