Restroom antennas needed for homeland security

Conveniently located bathrooms are always a plus for parks and picnic areas. In downtown Manchester, one conveniently located restroom building has found a higher calling — literally.

The Port of Manchester has contracted with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to construct two antennas on top of the restroom building in the middle of the port parking lot in downtown Manchester.

The antennas will be used to assist communications with the Washington State Ferries, specifically the Southworth and Bremerton runs, in order to improve “homeland security.”

The port and the state have been in negotiations for about three months.

“We had a choice (whether or not to accept the state’s proposal),” said Port of Manchester Commissioner Bob Parks, “but they preferred our location due to its height.”

According to Parks, the location is ideal because the antennas will be 30 feet above the water and have a clear signal to Southworth and downtown Seattle.

However, some Manchester residents are less than enthralled at the prospect of having the antennas in such a conspicuous location.

“This restroom is in the center of the view corridor,” said Manchester Community Council president and resident Bob Ballard in a recent letter to community members. “Our view corridor is the pride of downtown Manchester.”

According to Parks, one of the antennas is four inches in diameter and four feet long. The other is a 15-inch dish antenna.

They will be mounted on the ocean side of structure, within the slope of pitched room and somewhat below the drip line of gutter area.

The transmitting gear will be locked in the storage area on the west end of the restroom. The port will collect $50 a month from the state for the service.

Parks said he expects them to be installed this week.

“We, as a community members, should hold our port commissioners responsible to the taxpayers of Manchester,” Ballard said. “We need answers to some of these questions and others you may have, before and not after, a commitment is made to install such a system.”

Parks said the antennas were discussed at length at Port of Manchester meetings leading up to this week’s installation.

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