If you’re planning events at the downtown pavilion or adjoining Dyckman Park, you’d better take your parents’ age-old advice: go to the bathroom before you leave home.
For those who ignore this advice, relief will soon be in sight. The City of South Haven and the city’s Downtown Development Authority are planning to build new, larger toilets next to the park and pavilion.
Currently, the city, through an agreement with the South Haven / Van Buren County Visitors and Convention Bureau, provides two unisex bathrooms at the rear of the Visitors Bureau building, located next to the park. Dyckman.
However, with the increased use of the Downtown Pavilion over the past decade by the South Haven Farmer’s Market, Ice Skating Rink, and Summer Festivals, it became apparent to DDA members that the sanitary facilities limited are inadequate, according to Sue Brock, director of the DDA. .
âAdditional toilet capacity appears to be a need primarily during peak tourist season, festivals and ice rink season,â said Brock.
As a result, at a special workshop meeting in October 2020, DDA revised the list of priorities for DDA 2020-2021 which consisted of 4 priorities, while 3 were ranked as high priority and one as high priority. low priority.
âImproving the downtown public washrooms was one of the top three priorities,â said Brock.
Over the past decade, the DDA has considered building new toilets on the west side of the park and on the west side of the lodge, but both proposals were prohibitively expensive.
Earlier this year, however, Scott Reinert, who at the time was executive director of the visitors’ office, approached city officials with the idea of ââexpanding the current washroom using some of the space now in use. by the rink staff for their office and skate rental. Located next to the existing toilets, the idea seemed good.
“With the improvement of the washrooms as a high priority, the DDA was interested in continuing to expand the washrooms in the convention building and visitors’ office,” said Brock.
Earlier this summer, the DDA hired GMB Architecture & Engineering to review the space, design a larger washroom, and determine the cost of the upgrades. The company proposed a male and female toilet plan, with five bathrooms in each room.
“The increase in the number of facilities will certainly be of benefit to residents and tourists alike, especially since the restrooms at Dyckman Park are the only facilities open year-round and primarily serve both the ice rink and the market. agricultural, âsaid Brock.
The toilet project is estimated at $ 350,000, which will be funded by the DDA, according to Brock, adding that city officials are working on a purchase agreement with the visitors’ office to purchase part of the rear of the building. for enlarged toilets.
Brock did not have a specific price that the city is aiming for to purchase the space, but said: “The city … is looking to purchase part of the convention and visitor bureau building for a nominal fee.”
City council members plan to consider approving a purchase contract at their November 1 meeting.
âIf the purchase is approved, the target timeline for the project is mid-January with a mid-May completion date just before the start of the farmer’s market season,â Brock said.
Although the space under consideration for the lavatory expansion project reduces the space currently used for the ice rink, Brock said the rink’s operations would not be adversely affected.
âThe new washrooms are not expected to impact the ability of skaters to rent skates or obtain items from the concession area,â said Brock. âOnce the washrooms are finished, individuals can access the concession area through a rear entrance on the south side of the building. Until the start of the project, there will be no changes regarding the entry of the concession or the rental of skates.