The City of Riverton is looking into providing additional public restrooms in town to help address increased reports of public defecation.
City administrator Kyle Butterfield said he received a quote this week from a vendor who offers a “streamlined, easy-to-clean, almost kiosk-style bathroom that provides privacy but also ensures public safety.”
“We are exploring options and also looking at budget availabilities, and we’ll definitely bring those to you,” he told the Riverton City Council during a regular meeting Tuesday.
Butterfield was responding to comments from community member Wayne Dick, who addressed the council about the city’s new public defecation ordinance before it was approved on third reading this week.
The new ordinance “has drawn attention to a place where our city has fallen short for many years,” Dick said, pointing to the “lack of restrooms” available for public use in town – especially in the winter months and at night “when some people are out and need them.”
“Regulation is not an answer unless you supply a way for (people) to comply with that regulation,” Dick said. “If you don’t have some way for these people to go to the bathroom somewhere, I think you’re going to just put extra load on your police department.”
He suggested the city research designs for public restrooms that are low-maintenance, inexpensive, and difficult to damage, then install the facilities in areas where people tend to congregate in town – particularly unhoused people struggling with substance use disorder.
“There are restrooms that are very self-sufficient … as far as operation,” Dick said. “They don’t get torn up much because there’s not much to tear up, (so) once built they can be run in an efficient manner. … It’s very, very practical, and I think it’s very workable if you guys will just put your heads to it.”
Former Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness suggested public restrooms could be constructed at 422 E. Main St. – currently a vacant lot.
“I can see the need in our community for a public green space and restrooms on Main,” Warpness said. “Our current discussion on public defecation … draws that need into focus.”
Mayor Tim Hancock agreed that “we need to look at some other options for making sure that we’re not just penalizing something without providing a way that you can” follow the law.
He also pointed out that one of the council goals for the fiscal year is to enhance the city’s “beautification and image.”
“We’re wanting to improve park and trail facilities, (so) we’ve been tasking the city with coming up with ideas and ways to do that,” he said.
A progress report on the council goals will likely be presented at an upcoming meeting, he added.
For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.