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Beach bathroom debate resurfaces on Island – Port Isabel-South Padre Press

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By KEVIN RICH
Special to the PRESS

Providing portable restroom facilities for beach goers was once again the subject of debate at the Wednesday, Aug. 15 meeting of the South Padre Island City Council.

Council member Alita Bagley opened the discussion, reminding everyone that the topic was discussed and voted on in a previous Council meeting. During the July 18 meeting, Council voted to give Shoreline Management Director Brandon Hill approval to send a plan to the Texas General Land Office (GLO) for placing portable restrooms near some of the beach accesses.

“In my tenure with City Council there have been very few things that I voted on and then later had doubts whether or not it was the right decision, and this was one of those times,” Bagley said. “After thinking about so many additional issues, I started asking a lot more questions.” Bagley explained this was the reason she asked for the item to be revisited and that she had provided Hill with a list of questions to answer about his plan.

Hill responded by providing a presentation covering each of the areas of concern. The first item addressed was proving a list of all the beach accesses along Gulf Boulevard where a restroom could potentially be added. In addition to the existing facilities at the Gulf and Treasure Island accesses, Hill identified Sea Island, White Cap, Blue Water, Riviera, Daydream, Bougainville, Aquarius, Good Hope and Sapphire accesses.

“Council member Bagley also asked that we discuss the pricing associated with the alternatives,” reported Hill. Hill said it would cost $5,130 per month, or $61,500 per year, to provide six portable restroom units compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

To provide a fixed structure with more aesthetic appeal, or what Hill termed as ‘Island Way’ facilities, the cost was estimated at $116,516, plus an additional $6,000 per year required for maintenance.

Hill was also asked to provide beautification options for the portable structures. He displayed pictures of examples from other cities where the portable restrooms are enclosed inside of wooden structures of various designs and colors.

On the issue of drawbacks associated with placing restrooms on the beach, Hill stated that the naturally unstable and dynamic environment of the beach increases the risk for flooding and other hazards to impact the facilities. He also warned of the potential for contamination and beach closures resulting from spills. Hill also raised concerns about large vehicles that would need to drive on the beach to service the facilities and the damage they may cause to the dunes.

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