Charleston residents hopeful for city park improvements, more public restrooms

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Flushing out crime while providing City of Charleston residents a public restroom in city parks. It was an initiative led by Charleston City Councilman William Gregorie for years before a “Portland Loo” was brought to Charleston back in 2019.

Charleston city residents are hopeful more “Portland Loo” toilets can be installed in city parks but city officials say they come at a hefty price.

This “Portland Loo” was the first of it’s kind for the City of Charleston. The $125,000 toilet was installed by the City of Charleston in the park due to it’s easy assembly, sleek look and low maintenance. Some Charleston residents say it’s time to install more of the toilets at other parks around the city.

Joseph Watson starts each day with a walk-in Hampstead Mall Park.

“Starting off with saying good morning, hello, and stuff like that,” says Joseph Watson.

For more than 70 years, Watson has walked the park and sat on its benches. Now he’s pushing to make it better.

“It’s missing something, you see a little bit of the flowers and stuff over there,” says Watson. But Watson says it’s missing a public restroom for those visiting the park.

Steve Bailey, an area resident agrees with the need and raised the concern to city officials who Bailey says were skeptical at the time and questioned the need.

“Why do we need a bathroom,” Bailey says the city official asked him. “It’s expensive, why do we need a bathroom? It was like almost the second he said it, some guy came over and peed on the oak tree as we were sitting there.”

Bailey says the official agreed a public restroom like the “Portland Loo” would be a good solution but the City’s Director of Parks and Capital Projects says the original “Portland Loo” was installed for it’s easy maintenance and has served the purpose.

“But I do think the ‘Portland Loo’ is a great solution for any park that is in need of facilities like that,” says Kronsberg.

Kronsberg is hoping the “Portland Loo” can serve as a template for public restrooms in city parks but says the challenge is footing the lofty bill.

“We do hear the need for public restrooms frequently and we’re, it’s all about finding budgets and identifying the projects,” says Kronsberg.

“Watson and Bailey say Eastside residents have raised $7,000 from donors to make improvements at Hampstead park. Their goals range from the sleek toilet to raising the Phillip Simmons statue and sprucing up the curb appeal at Bailey and Watson’s favorite place to share a hello and goodbye.

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“If you want your prayers answered, get off your knees and hustle,” says Bailey. “That’s what were doing in this neighborhood, we’re hustling. We’re going to get it done. Push. Push. Push.”

Kronsberg says his department is continually looking for grants and ways to fund improvement projects at city parks. The parks and recreation master plan which would include potential improvement projects will go before Charleston City Council Tuesday night during a council meeting.

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