Fresh Ideas: Potties in the parks — again |

Fresh Ideas: Potties in the parks — again

Abby Johnson

It’s healthy to hydrate and unhealthy to hold it. That is as true today as in 1999 when I last wrote about potties-in-the-parks. Seventeen years later, the need remains urgent. At that time, residents of the Long Ranch subdivision off Kings Canyon Road and Longview successfully protested the Carson City Parks and Recreation proposal to place one unisex, handicapped accessible port-a-potty at the Long Ranch Park which has playground equipment, a gazebo with picnic tables and benches, and walking paths. The argument for pottyless parks was because it’s a neighborhood park, calls of nature can be answered at home. In 1999, I was told neighborhood residents didn’t want a toilet facility which could attract vagrants, graffiti and vandalism.

In the passage of time, Carson has built and updated its park system citywide. Children’s play equipment has been modernized for safety and aesthetic standards. Our city crews mow and water and trim and tend. More than 50 percent of Carson’s parks allow dogs, and it’s easy to tell on the city’s website which ones are Fido-friendly. Potty-friendly, not so much.

According to my calculations from the city’s online chart, only eight of Carson’s 21 “neighborhood parks” — and that means all parks — have restrooms. That’s a dismal 38 percent, and includes the large and multi-purpose Mills and Fuji parks. Take them out of the count and only five parks have potties, just 27 percent of the remaining 18 parks.

And yet, getting back to quality of life basics, an uncomfortably obvious deficit exists — the lack of restroom facilities in neighborhood parks. The city’s policy to not fully service neighborhood parks has a disturbing consequence. Without an available restroom, residents from other parts of town don’t feel welcome. Is the city’s not-so-subtle objective to keep Sunset, Long Ranch and Carriage Square parks, among others, potty-free?

Portable and seasonal potty technology continues to improve. You don’t need a permanent cement and stainless steel building in order to provide the most basic of amenities. The porta-potty is a clean, safe, and efficient way to make sure the post-Pampers and pre-Depends crowd has a place to … go. Children, youth soccer, older folks, people with medical conditions, the pregnant, the bikeables and walkables, and especially the hydrated all need and deserve facilities in our otherwise well maintained and accessible park facilities.

The newly proposed Lompa subdivision, north of East Fifth Street and east of Saliman, will include land for parks. Restroom facilities at Lompa must be in the plans and budgets.

A city which can spend millions to redo downtown for tourists (including public restrooms I assume) should have the plans and means for this basic quality of life amenity for its own residents.

If you’d like to get potties-in-the-parks funded, here’s a place to start. The city will hold a public budget open house on April 4 at the Carson City Community Center from noon to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Stop by the Parks and Recreation table to discuss this pressing budget need. And reach out to the Supervisors by email through the city’s website to let them know you want action now, including potties in the budget of the parks department.

It’s urgent. It’s been urgent for more than 17 years. That’s a long time to wait. You gotta go!

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.