Council to talk new restrooms for park on Tuesday

Published 5:53 pm Monday, January 27, 2020

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Restrooms look to be headed to Southbend Park in LaGrange.

According to city documents, the Callaway Foundation has given a grant to the city to construct new restrooms at the park. 

The plans must be submitted and approved by the Callaway Foundation. Following the construction of the restrooms, the city will maintain the facilities, city documents say.

Callaway Foundation President Tripp Penn said restrooms had been talked about since the park opened about a year ago.

He said Callaway would pay for the construction of the restrooms and the city will maintain them.

“We think that Southbend Park is a wonderful addition to the community,” Penn said. “We want it to be a comfortable place for all families.”

The park features a dog park, skate park, playground equipment and several green spaces for families to relax. However, having restroom facilities could make the park feel whole.

“It is wonderful to drive by there any day of the west to see skateboarders and people walking their dog,” Penn said. “We hope this (having restrooms) would complete this puzzle.”

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the city wanted restrooms from the beginning, but they knew that bathrooms come with potential maintenance and security issues. 

He said the city planning staff has been working on making sure a restroom location is well-lit with a water source nearby and also easily assessable for maintenance crews.

“We knew if we got restrooms, we wanted to do it right,” Thornton said. “I think a lot of planning has gone into it to minimize those issues.”

He said it’ll be a good addition to the park, adding that before the park was built, the city thought facilities were needed. Right after it opened, officials learned restrooms were a necessity, Thornton said. 

“That has taken a little bit of time, but I think we have done it the right way,” he said.

Penn said the Callaway Foundation plans to open the construction bid in March and start construction in April. He said conservative estimates say the restrooms could be completed by September.  

The city and Callaway Foundation are already involved in a lease agreement for the maintenance of the park. 

Signed on May 15, 2019, the city has agreed to maintain the 3.86-acre park. Part of that agreement includes the walkways, landscaping and any improvements made to the park.

On Tuesday, the city council will discuss the amendment to the lease, which would add maintaining the restrooms.

Also, on Tuesday, Councilman Willie Edmondson will be sworn in to a third term as a LaGrange councilman. He was re-elected after running unopposed in the November election.

The city council is also slated to hear an update from Mike Wilson, director of the Homeless Coalition, as well as fill several boards by way of appointments.

LaGrange Communications Manager Katie Mercer Van Schoor said the city fills many of those spots from its LaGrange 101 classes, which is meant to allow residents to experience an inside look at the city government.

Van Schoor said the city would soon be accepting applications for the LaGrange Youth Council, which is an advisory board made up of local youth that provide advice and counsel to local governing bodies. She said the applications would be accepted from Jan. 31 through March 20.