Council discusses adding bathrooms to Moss & Wood Park

Published 9:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

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The City of LaGrange is planning a restroom facility for Moss & Wood Park after hearing requests from local citizens.

Councilman Leon Childs suggested the addition shortly after taking office. Childs said he had heard many concerns about the new park not having restroom facilities.

The city was initially reluctant to put a restroom in the park after seeing the way the restrooms at Southbend Skate Park were treated. The restrooms at Southbend have had problems with litter, vandalism, loitering and destruction of property.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said the restroom facility at Southbend was designed to be like “Fort Knox” so that the doors would lock at night, but people have since figured out how to enter the restrooms at night and live in them or vandalize the interior.

The city considered using prebuilt restrooms and even renting a portable restroom facility for weekends and special events at Moss & Wood, but the costs for both were so high that a permanent building was considered to be a more cost-effective solution in the long term.

The city has since engaged the architecture firm Hecht Burdshaw out of Columbus to provide some designs for the proposed restroom facility. Kelsey unveiled the designs at the city council retreat on April 15.

Hecht Burdshaw provided the city with renderings of optional design features for the restroom designs ranging from an estimated $270,000 to $350,000.

Kelsey said she favored the design with traditional red brick walls as it matches the nearby McGreggor Street School.

Assistant City Manager Bill Bulloch said one option is to not have front doors for the facility.

“The problem that we’ve had over at Southbend is people going in and locking themselves in the bathroom, with kids going in there and having relations and homeless people going in there and spending the night, no matter what we do,” Bulloch said. “Once you kind of open it up, there’s no way for somebody to go in there and lock themselves in because it’s open and available.”

Bullock said they can still have a rollup door to secure the facility when it needs to be closed.

Plans are to place the restrooms in the southeast portion of the park. Councilman Mark Mitchell suggested building them closer to a roadway for better visibility, but Bulloch said the topology of the parl only really allowed for them the be built there.

Mitchell suggested that more traffic going by would reduce crime and vandalism.

“We’ve looked at it. There’s a slope off the one side, and it is about really the only place that you can put it,” Bulloch said.

Kelsey said the city doesn’t have a timeline on when the facility might be completed because it still needs to be bid out and have the contract approved.