Plans in place for new restrooms at the Garth and Grindstone Nature areas

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 9:35 a.m. CDT; updated 1:39 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 20, 2014

COLUMBIA – This fall, new restrooms will be coming to the Garth and Grindstone Nature areas.

The budget for the project is $115,000 for the Grindstone Nature Area and $100,000 for the Garth Nature Area, totaling $215,000. The project is being funded by park sales tax funds.

A public feedback meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St. The plans will be available at the meeting.

The Garth Nature Area is the trail head for the Bear Creek Trail and is near a dog park. The Grindstone Nature Area serves as the trailhead for the Hinkson Creek Trail. Both areas are heavily used on days with good weather and the parking lots fill up, said Toney Lowery, the senior park planner and project manager. That high number of visitors means more restrooms are needed to accommodate them.

Rather than building restrooms from scratch, the project will be buying prefabricated restrooms instead, Lowery said. Each restroom costs about $40,000, he said, but installation will total an estimated $66,000.

"Considering that it's done when it gets here, it's a pretty good deal," Lowery said.

The restrooms, which are about 200 square feet each, will be replacing the portable toilets at both sites. There is still an ongoing debate whether the new restrooms should be open throughout the year or close during the winter, Lowery said.

He said there had been interest in starting the project earlier, but funding only came through recently. Another concern had been the lack of utilities — specifically electricity and water. The issue was sorted out after speaking to the Columbia Water and Light Lowery said.

"It turns out that there's great electric nearby," Lowery said. "The city told me where the water lines are at."

Lowery said he hopes that work on the project will start sometime in May, and that the restrooms will be in place by the fall.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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