SALEM - When you gotta go, you gotta go - now visitors and ball players at Waterworth Memorial Park will have a new place to go that's a little closer to the fields and nature trail off of Sunset.
The Salem Parks Commission agreed Wednesday to place a porta-jon somewhere in the area between Rotary Field and Lions Field for five months from April through August after hearing about some complaints relayed by Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks. The cost is $60 per month.
Franks said people were complaining to him about not having some type of bathroom facilities during practices for girls softball. He said he's been getting strong requests to get a porta-jon out there. He's also had to explain why the events-only bathroom can't be opened by the band shell.
He noted that Salem Junior Baseball usually brings in a porta-jon at each of the parks where they play, which is Waterworth Memorial Park and Centennial Park, but they don't usually bring them until May once their games start. He recalled that last year, most of the complaints came in April.
He also said that he was looking at it from the side of a parent and the last excuse they want to hear is finances. He suggested just putting one porta-jon near Rotary Field for a couple months.
Centennial Park has a permanent restroom facility near the tennis courts. The permanent restroom facility for Waterworth Memorial Park is at the concession stand near the duck pond. Both are closed during the winter, but are now open. There's also a permanent events-only restroom near the band shell that was funded through the Salem Community Foundation with the stipulation that it only be used for special events, such as the concerts, the firesworks and other large community events, like Relay for Life.
Parks Director Steve Faber said it's not just about kids, but also about grandparents, too. He received a complaint from a high school parent about the bathroom situation. The Salem High School girls junior varsity team plays at Waterworth Memorial Park at Bill Galchick Field near the tennis courts.
"We can't put a facility at every field...we're not made of money," commission Chairman John Panezott said, asking they try to find out when Salem Junior Baseball planned to get their porta-jons out.
"Is $120 really a big issue? Do we have the means to do it?" Parks Foreman Jim Grimm asked. "If we've got the means to do it, why not just do it?"
He suggested a porta-jon be put in that area for all the time, noting that a lot of people use the nature trail and use that part of the park. It's quite a distance from that part to the nearest restroom.
Panezott expressed some concern about possible vandalism. Commission Vice Chairman Terry Hoopes said he thought it was long overdue and could understand what families with small children go through in trying to get to the closest bathroom. He said it's a matter of convenience for the public. Faber expressed concern that if one is placed, where will it stop. He said requests will come in for more than one. Commission member Lucille Karnofel suggested putting a porta-jon at the opposite area from where Salem Junior Baseball puts theirs, that way it's all covered.
In other business, Faber said the Salem Lake is now open on Gamble Road at the Salem Reservoir from 7 a.m. to dusk.