Porta-Potties and Human Waste in Downtown Olympia Targeted by Pilot Project

Until Olympia city officials come up with a long-term solution, porta-potties will be temporarily placed in downtown locations. As part of a nine-month expansion plan, the Downtown Ambassador Program’s Clean Team will pick up human waste at a cost of around $68,000.

This pilot project would accomplish two goals, the reduction of human waste and the increase in public restrooms in downtown Olympia. The City Council reviewed a number of possible solutions at a recent study session pertaining to the lack of restrooms in the downtown core. Especially for the business community, this has become a real inconvenience but also a major health threat.

portable-toilet-rowIf the pilot project receives approval from the council next week, the money would go to the Clean Team. During 2016, the team would start working daily at 6:00 a.m. to eliminate human waste from doorways, alleys, and alcoves. The allocated money would also assist with additional part-time staff, training, and health coverage, as well as extra patrol for monitoring purposes.

At this time, the pilot project would target 25 downtown locations. Anna Schlecht, housing program manager stressed just how bad the problem has become. As stated, without adequate public restrooms, tremendous burden is placed on private businesses.

The city of Olympia is looking at another short-term solution that involves the installation of porta-potties placed in four locations. With this, the porta-potty located at the Artesian Commons could stay open all day and night opposed to closing at dusk. To reconfigure the fence around the park giving people easy access to the new porta-potties, city crews will need at least four weeks.

With an approximate cost of $13,700 for the porta-potties, each site is being carefully chosen. Along with the Artesian Commons, four porta-potties would be installed at the Salvation Army on Fifth Avenue SE, the Olympia Transit Center on State Avenue NE, close to the Olympia Timberland Library and the Fertile Grounds Guesthouse on Adams St. SE, and near Heritage Park at Columbia Street on Seventh Avenue SW.

Long-term, the city of Olympia wants so install a heavy-duty and permanent restroom but that could take about a year to complete. The city’s other goal is to look at options for restrooms at the Providence Community Care Center currently under development. Until then, the city would use the pilot project through 2016, and possibly into 2017 although the cost would likely increase.

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