Public Restroom Schedule A Mystery
Along with the purchase of Falmouth Country Club and the preservation of hundreds of acres of open space throughout the town, the revitalization of Falmouth's Main Street is one of the town's signature public policy successes of the last 20 years. This $3 million effort brought life teeming back to a wilted downtown, and, according to official estimates, inspired an an additional $30 million in both public and private improvements. Other communities have held Falmouth up as an example for nearly a decade as an enviable example of successful downtown renewal.
Part of this major effort was the much-needed construction of a public restroom, a $200,000 facility that was well designed to fit in with the character of the downtown and was nestled quaintly in the corner of the parking lot behind a much-used greenspace called Margaret "Peg" Noonan Park. This facility not only eased the burden of providing comfort to visitors and residents from the area business owners, it sent a clear message to tourists and merchants alike that the town values its core commercial area and is serious about being a partner in service delivery.
Which is why the plight of an unidentified nonagenarian woman hustling door to door the morning of the annual Memorial Day Celebration to find such comfort is so troubling. As told to me, this well-dressed celebrant for the day's festivities arrived early, only to find the public loo not-so-public. She scampered around and finally - hopefully - found relief from a kind and understanding (and probably justifably frustrated) merchant. The facility was opened some time later - but too late for this un-served member of the public.
While the rest rooms are generally well kept, the lack of any published schedule and erratic openings and closings can inspire emotions ranging from mild irritation to downright indignation.
I understand the inherent difficulties and complexities of managing and cleaning multiple buildings with limited staff. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, though, there is no more important public facility in Falmouth than the downtown restrooms, save for maybe Old Silver Beach. Keeping this facility open and clean must be a top priority for the Facilities Maintenance Division who cleans it and the Selectmen who set the policy for it. The hours can be posted with a simple notice. The DPW has an in-house signmaker. Use it.
I visited the facility today and found it open and ready for use. Good. Nowhere in sight was any note or placard telling me or anyone else when I could expect it to be open again. Not good. I casually polled a couple of merhcants to see if they were aware of the schedule for our #1 (and #2) public building on Main Street. The reactions were varied but the theme was the same: from the dismissive "Hmphh!" to the kind but aggravated "they don't tell us," the mystery of when the public restrooms are public has not yet been solved.
What may seem a trivial issue to the reader who reads this from the comfort of a 2 1/2 bath home, the reader enjoying these musings sitting on one of the many benches on Main Street reaping the benefits of the Falmouth Chamber's "Unwired Village," may just get a taste of what it feels like to want when nature comes knockin' on the door and the Town of Falmouth has no answer. This is an easy fix. Is anyone listening?