December 14, 2011

City closes Civic Center showers for public use

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

It’s a shame when something is made available to the public for a specific purpose and the negligent behavior of a few ruins everyone’s opportunity to take advantage of it.
In this specific case, the lost opportunity in question is the eventual and inevitable disabling of the shower facilities in the Watford City Civic Center.
And the main reason behind this closure is vandalism.
“It’s a shame,” states City Auditor Laura Anderson, “but the actions of a few have unfortunately spoiled it for everyone.”
Anderson reports that the Civic Center has had problems with soap dispensers being torn off the wall so people could use them in the shower, instead of bringing their own soap, and paper towel dispensers being torn off the walls for a similar reason. People are using the paper towels to dry off after their shower instead of bringing a towel. Then, in a secondary act of carelessness, they have been leaving the paper in the shower for the next person or the city to deal with, instead of throwing it away.
“We have also had problems with men using the women’s restroom and shower, which is also cause for concern,” Anderson states. “We don’t want situations where girls find themselves running into men in the Civic Center’s public bathroom facility.”
Robin Arndt, head of Maintenance for the Watford City Department of Parks and Recreation, states that similar issues have arisen with the Tourist Park bathroom and shower facility.
“We have had paper towels left in the shower, and soap dispensers torn off the walls,” states Arndt. “We have also had trash cans and shower curtains stolen.”
Also, Arndt reports having issues with men using the women’s facility as well.
In addition, though ‘No Smoking’ signs are clearly posted, Arndt states that people have not only smoked within the bath house, but they have left their cigarette butts on the floor, causing burn marks.
“I don’t want to offend the ones who do come and show respect for the city’s property, because most people do,” states Arndt. “However, the few that don’t, ruin it for everyone else.”
According to Arndt, in October, the city installed a new bathroom and shower building at the Tourist Park, which helped cut down on some of the issues they were having.
“The old building had settled a bit, so water would go everywhere, which wasn’t the patron’s fault,” Arndt states. “Now we don’t have that issue.”
The new building also has hand dryers, instead of paper towel dispensers, and the new building is not equipped with soap dispensers of any kind.
“It’s a shame, but that was the only way to solve the problem,” Arndt states.
The new building was finished in October, and consists of four coin-operated shower stalls. The new building also has stalls that lock, to help cut down on the issue of men in the women’s bathroom.
However, this week, Arndt had to close the bathrooms at the Tourist Park for the season. With the Civic Center on the verge of disabling their showers, it begs the question, what will the person without access to running water do for a shower?
One option becoming available in the near future is a portable coin-operated shower trailer owned by TJT, Inc.
According to Shawn Kling, CEO of TJT, Inc., this shower trailer has been custom-made for the arctic climate, and will hopefully be up and running by January.
“We just got our permit approved by the city, so we are just waiting on water, sewer and gas,” states Kling.
Should Kling’s plan come together, those needing a hot shower will be able to find one at his facility for $10 per use.
Which may not be bad considering that because of a few people’s lack of respect not only for city property, but for those of their peers in similar predicaments, doors are closing to those without access to a private shower.