The Town Council approved the 8-24 planning procedure for two restrooms along the linear trail. Council chair Michael Riccio said that restrooms on the trail have been planned for a long time, but businesses are being affected and it’s causing a problem.
“We’re getting a lot more people in from out of town and we’re forcing people to use our local restaurants,” he said during the meeting Monday night. “It’s starting to become a little bit of an issue.”
The 8-24 process involves the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) looking at a site plan and approving it. Now that the Council approved the motion, the PZC can begin looking at plans for the two proposed bathroom sites, which are at the depot off of Canal Street and Goat Island off of East Summer Street.
“We are in tough economic times and it may not be an appropriate time to build bathrooms,” Riccio said. “I just want the public to know this is site plan only, not expenditure.”
Town Attorney Mark Sciota echoed Riccio’s comments.
“This is not a point where we are spending any money,” he told the council. “This is to put in place the ability to build, if and when the council approves the contract for that.”
Sciota said that the commission will bring up the site plans during their June 6 meeting and discuss the 8-24 at that time. The current estimate from the public works department is $52,000 per bathroom structure, which includes all amenities.
Democratic councilors John Barry and Chris Palmieri voted against the 8-24 due to concerns with funding. The town budget has a $175,000 line item for capital improvement projects that are bonded, which the Democrats are against, but Town Manager Garry Brumback said that “it doesn’t appear we will have to bond.”
“My concern is if we have extra money for bathrooms, then people shouldn’t have to have a big tax increase again,” Barry said. “I’m not going to vote for this until we know for sure what the funding mechanism is. I’m certainly not going to support it if it’s bonded like it was originally planned.”
Unless there is a material change, the site plans are good for five years with a possible extension for five years, so there is no rush to build the bathrooms right now. The PZC will review the 8-24, which will eventually come back to the council for final approval.
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