Lack of Potties Raise Stink

Lack of Potties Raise Stink

Lack of Potties Raise Stink Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 27 April 2022 14:06

Complaints about the lack of porta-potties have reached the Carolina Beach Town Council concerning the removal of the facilities at three beach accesses. At yesterday’s workshop, Councilman Joe Benson discussed possibly adding them back to Tennessee, Ocean, and Texas. Town Manager Bruce Oakley told Council that cleaning them became a safety issue and a financial issue. Mayor Pro Tem Healy asked how many bathrooms the town had in which he was told there were 5 public bathroom facilities. Mark Meyer added maintaining the facilities was a hazard to staff and visitors; they were constantly vandalized and used as a trash can. Mayor Barbee compared adjoining towns with fewer facilities stating “for some reason in Wilmington Beach we have a public health crisis over bathrooms that we don’t have anywhere else on the coast, so I’m trying to figure out what’s driving the need.”  Meyer answered, “it’s not the need, it was the fact that we accommodated it.” Mayor Barbee and Councilman Joe Benson went back in forth comparing beach towns, the number of visitors at certain accesses, and bathroom locations. Councilwoman LeCompte asked how much to build a restroom and Meyer responded they were looking at every possible option in their legal realm. Councilman Hoffer asked how many were removed where he was told 3. Mayor Barbee asked to make a motion to leave the program as is the way we voted for it in February. Councilman Hoffer said he didn’t want to vote for anything. Councilwoman LeCompte added it was just a discussion today. Mayor Pro Tem Healy shared that if there is somewhere we need bathrooms it was at the Boardwalk. Most of Council agreed that portapotties were not the answer and that a better solution needed to be made. No action was made to return the facilities back to the previous locations. 

Quite a few emails were sent to Mayor and Council concerning the removal. Valerie Brockman “We live on Ocean Blvd and even though we’re kind of close to the house we do use them... visitors who have paid to park use them. Where do people go who might might need a real bathroom with toilet paper? They have paid to park and if they leave with the car they’ll lose their parking spot. People joke about using the ocean, but I’m sure you realize that’s not always an option with the different ways Mother Nature calls.” 

Monica Hayes shared, “My name is Monica Hayes and I have been a property owner in Carolina Beach since 2009 (1506 Swordfish Lane). Our property has been in our family since 1977, so we have experienced many changes such as being annexed to CB, going from gravel roads to paved roads, and enjoying the beach with a handful of families to hundreds of families. We love and take pride in Carolina Beach! 

My email to you is to voice my concern of the removal of porta john services on CB beach accesses from Hamlet Ave. to Alabama. My concern does not involve convenience but that of health and safety. CB provides paid parking at these accesses with most spaces being used by visitors taking day trips to the beach. With the porta john services removed, day visitors must search between a span varying 1.4 miles for a public restroom. Visitors will not want to drive to a restroom for fear of losing their parking space and will not want to walk because of the distance. This is where the health and safety issue arises because visitors will then use the ocean, beach or parking space as a restroom. This will not be sanitary in all aspects.” Stacey Dunn stated, “I feel the absence of portable restrooms will only lead to more pollution in our beautiful ocean and our beach community that we so proudly call home.” 

Patrick Conley emailed Mayor Barbee stating, “While some of us who live just a few minutes from a beach access will not be impacted immediately, this
decision seems to have more serious ramifications than just an inconvenience for beach-goers. Please reconsider this important financial decision based upon one single factor; the health and well-being of our visitors.” Paul Levy quoted former Councilman Macon in 2001 "Councilman Macon said he would like to see the beach accommodating as much parking and restroom facilities as possible toward the ocean so that people who are paying for that sand can enjoy it.. I can't say it any better. 

Bill Carew wrote Mayor and Members of Council Looking at Wrightsville, Sunset, Kure, and Holden beaches, Carolina Beach is right in line for the number of restrooms we provide at ocean access points. Please move past this absurd issue and stick with the original decision to remove the porta potties from access points. They are an unnecessary expense and on a hot afternoon, they generally smell disgusting. 

As a town we have way more important things in which to invest our me and money. We need to move on and quit catering to small groups of individuals that collectively become a tail wagging the dog.” Jan Bradish addressed the change stating “If the town is taking a poll, I would like the town to supply & maintain Porta Johns at several (if not all) beach accesses. I can't believe this decision was made without any warning to people expecting to be able to relieve themselves. We are promoting pedestrian traffic (biking & walking) on our island. Parking is limited & expensive. We need to have outdoor bathrooms.” 

Carolina Beach resident Jenni Battle sent an email saying “I just learned that the portal potties were being removed from the beach accesses. That on top of having already removed trash cans last season is really going to lead to a health and wellness issue. As a mom of young children with a decent walk back home if someone has to use the bathroom and nowhere to properly dispose of trash when coming off the beach I see this spiraling into a rather inhospitable reputation for CB. Add that on top of the current parking issues/complaints and I feel that we are going to be adding more and more reasons for tourists and locals OTB to come less and less / go elsewhere. While we are discussing bathrooms - the bathroom facilities at Mike Chappell need a do- over big time and I'd love to see the concessions stand operable. If local volunteer groups could help run it possibly; that would be great for those of us who spend 4 nights a week at the ballpark. Thanks again for your time and any help resolving these matters for the benefit of our town.” 

Mayor Lynn Barbee emailed both the town manager and attorney sharing “Once again our OPs committee chair (Paul Levy) has taken to social media. This is the source of the hours we have spent reading and responding to emails over portable toilets.” The email went on to share a lengthy post that was made to the Carolina Beach Locals Page: “Enjoying beach time today on the old Wilmington Beach side of CB as we have done for over 20+ years. Time came to visit the porta potty and discovered I would have to walk back to the house for a bathroom break which is very unusual this time of year. Emailed the town manager and his response shocked me. The town has decided to cancel the porta potty service due to costs! If CB offers paid public parking I feel a porta potty would be offered? It seems our taxes are increasing while town services are decreasing. Would like to know CB property owners thoughts on this decision....”
Facts (all facts concerning CB can be verified in CB Town Council minutes.)
The PortaJohns were first installed summer 2001 as part of the Wilmington Beach annexation. The small permanent bathhouse at Alabama was opened summer 2002.
It appears that the PortaJohns have been maintained by Town employees continuously from summer 2001 until late January 2022. It appears that service was performed by part-time summer employees through the 2014-15 budget year. After that, the part-time positions appear to have been converted to full time with the employees doing other jobs off-season when less bathroom service was needed.
Upon the recommendation of Town staff the Town Council voted at the very end of a January 2022 budget workshop to remove only the PortaJohns at beach accesses. They remain in Freeman Park and elsewhere. No discussion or rationale in the minutes of the meeting.
Since then, a few of us have spoken up both formally and informally with Town staff and Town Council members about the decision. I am now on the “bad” list along with a few others for being rather heated and angry in my argument - and it was an argument. Taxes up and services gone makes some taxpayers angry. OTOH Deb LeCompte and Joe Benson have been working on obtaining bids from an outside vendor to service all the PortaJohns, in Freeman Park, elsewhere in town, and returning them to southern accesses. Thanks to Deb and Joe for listening, caring and rethinking a decision that was made naively, without full information.  The personal and public health issues are obvious. The PortaJohns were the ONLY public restrooms for a 1.4 mile of beach between Hamlet and Alabama. A minimal bit of internet research shows that 700(!) prescription drugs have diarrhea as a side effect. Most of these are common drugs used by practically everyone at one time or another. No surprise, pregnancy, UTI’s, female incontinence issues and male BPH all cause an increased need to find a restroom. Even less of a surprise, beer, soft drinks, iced tea and distilled water cause an increased need. Women have sanitary products on top of the other issues. Small children, elderly and disabled people use the south end accesses - they are not confined to the Boardwalk area. 

We are constantly told that “other beaches don’t have....” We are not other beaches. Most of the other beach towns are a block or two deep with the homes clustered near the beach. The south side of town is 0.9 miles deep at Spartanburg and 0.6 miles deep at Croaker. People drive in from farther north, for example the Spencer Farlow area, a couple of miles away. Our population is not all clustered right on the ocean. And the south end gets plenty of day trip tourists as well, seeking to avoid the downtown crowds. WHAT ARE THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO USE THE SOUTH SIDE BEACHES SUPPOSED TO DO? Run back to their houses a half mile away? Get in a golf cart and drive a mile or more, losing their parking spot in the process? And what about the day visitors who pay $20 to park? They have literally nowhere to go to the bathroom. This is not like relocating trash cans from the sand to the parking lot. This is a complete removal of a necessary service. 

All of us property owners, whether full or part time residents, have paid plenty to buy here and saw huge tax increases this year. Short term renters, who provide the all important Room Occupancy Tax and summer sales and alcohol tax revenues, do not all cluster at the beach front. Many rental properties are far back from the beach on the south side. Recent Facebook posts from Town officials proudly proclaim how much all these tax receipts have grown (mostly due to the higher property taxes) yet the Town claims poverty when it comes to a minimal service like PortaJohns that has a maximum effect on residents and visitors alike. 

Unlike some others, I have no problem with the purchase of Freeman Park, repair of the marina, providing better restrooms at Hamlet and Mike Chappell, although I will rarely if ever use those areas. The improvements make for a better town. But it is simply unacceptable to claim poverty and remove the only sanitary facilities for 1.4 miles of beach, the single aspect of life here that everyone uses, when you have seen a huge increase in tax receipts, inflation worries notwithstanding.
A few voices in the wilderness will not be enough to get anything done. Some of the people on the Locals page have emailed the elected officials due to the original post. Please join them by emailing your dismay at this decision and request that the PortaJohns be returned to the beach accesses with a proper service contract. It’s our tax money. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. gets to all the Town Council, Mayor and Town Manager. Some of you may have a closer relationship with particular Town Council members. You may want to contact them individually as well. It only takes 3 votes for this decision to be reversed. I’d like to think, and certainly hope, that with enough community input it will be a 5-0 vote.
When the PortaJohns were first proposed in 2001, Town Councilman Macon said: “...he would like to see the beach accommodating as much parking and restrooms as possible toward the ocean SO THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE PAYING FOR THAT SAND CAN ENJOY IT.” We have the maximum parking, we have had massive development and now a massive tax increase - we need the restrooms returned like for the past 20 years.
Thank you for reading. Please comment NICELY to the Town Council.”

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jasmine1

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