Public restrooms set to reopen

A sign on the men’s public restroom at Cerise Park reads ‘Closed For Winter.’ The restrooms were actually closed as a precaution associated with the coronavirus. Montrose City Council agreed opening the restrooms soon would be a good thing.

As of May 18, the City of Montrose moved to a Tier 3 emergency response, which allows some in-person city operations to resume with precautions.

At Monday’s city council work session, council members also discussed the reopening of public restrooms as part of the move down to Tier 3. During the pandemic, public restrooms were closed, and portable toilets and hand-washing stations were provided for the community’s homeless population.

“As we see more and more people getting out and using the trails around town, and the city parks, we think we can provide a public restroom that meets the needs,” said Montrose Mayor Barbara Bynum. “I’m glad we’re opening public restrooms because it gives people an option. We can try our best to take care of our needs before we leave home, but sometimes that isn’t possible.”

City Manager Bill Bell said that he hopes the 13 public restrooms, located primarily in city parks around the community, will be open at the end of the week.

Through janitorial contractors, the restrooms will be cleaned on a daily basis rather than every other day. According to Bell, the public restrooms and their maintenance will cost about $600 more than the portable toilets, but the permanent structure (which is easier to sanitize) will be better for the community.

The city also encourages the Montrose public to do their part and help maintain the restrooms, in addition to taking measures for their own safety while out in public.

“We see a lot of vandalism, and that’s one of the reasons we were hesitant to open them back up,” Bell said. “We just ask people to treat our restroom facilities like they would their own at home, and as a precautionary measure we recommend you use some sanitizing wipes and use them again after.”

Bynum agreed that the community must work together with janitorial staff to ensure safety and cleanliness.

“We are looking at a cleaning schedule that would allow the restrooms to be cleaned daily, and while this certainly doesn't mean they are always going to be completely free of germs or trash, we think this will balance cleanliness with availability,” Bynum said. “We want to keep the restrooms safe, and this means we need to discourage people from camping in the restrooms or using them to cook or clean for meals.”

In the Tier 3 response, services for City Hall and municipal court will be available from a temporary location at the visitor center lobby, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with only two people permitted into the building at a time. The Montrose Police Department lobby will be open to one person at a time, Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Half of city employees are still working from home, and patrons are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

Although the public is still encouraged to use online services whenever possible, the option is now available for those who need or want to do business in person.

“I know that not everyone wants to take care of these things online, so I think it’s nice that we have an option for people who prefer to walk in,” Bynum said.

The city and county both continue to monitor COVID-19 data to determine changes in response.

“Tier 3 is based on statistical data, and… if the data changes, we reserve the right to change where we’re at,” Bell said. “We’re going to be doing those from behind the glass for at least a month. We’ll see how we are as a community after that month.”

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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