Construction is currently underway at the Antioch Marina on L Street for a new toilet facility that has been in the works since 2010. The placement of this toilet has upset many local veterans and members of the community.
And for good reason.
For whatever the thought process, the City believed it would be a good idea to place a toilet just feet away from the Veterans Memorial which has now created some terrible optics of the City “pooping on Veterans”—yes, I probably should use a stronger word, but wished to keep this PG-13.
Many veterans in Antioch are now talking about boycotting veterans events and even suggesting that they attend other events in neighboring cities.
Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, a veteran, expressed disappointment that in the 9-years this project was in the works, that the Veterans, VFW and American Legion in Antioch were not consulted from the beginning.
JR Wilson of the Delta Veterans Group is now advocating the restroom be moved.
Wilson explained he was shocked to learn the structure being built was a bathroom after he was told by a city council member that it was going to be grass with sprinklers to make it look nice and that the bathroom was on the other side of the parking lot near the boat launch.
When he learned it was going to be a bathroom after construction had started. He called it “unacceptable” and suggested the City needs to move it away from the memorial.
Wilson further stated if the bathroom was not moved, it would be a Memorial in name only because veterans would stop visiting it and find other plans for veterans events while boycotting the city hosted events.
He is right.
It is sad that over 9-years of planning. No one thought to think about the veterans and the impression it would give. No one thought how every photograph taken at the memorial would have the backdrop of a bathroom? And let’s not forget, there is already a restroom a 50-yards away across the parking lot!
If one is going to walk across the parking lot at the boat launch to use one bathroom, what is another 50-yards?
Antioch, who is in the middle of the L Street beautification project, now gets to see the tip of L Street come to an end with a toilet overlooking the delta. This is poor planning and not well thought out.
The City Council was either mislead on the location of this restroom, had no idea of its location, or were simply asleep at the wheel.
So how did this happen?
This goes back to 2010 when the city spent $3.7 million on the boat launch ramp which it received grant money in 2004. It was at this point, the city removed Barbara Price Park by tearing out the park and paving over it with the now parking lot of 125+ parking spaces.
Many residents still contend they believed the restroom, along with a bait shop, were to be placed closer to the boat launch. Some have even stated on social media that the placement of this bathroom makes little sense as boaters still have to walk to far between the water and bathroom.
According to City Manager Ron Bernal, the plan was designed in 2010 and he confirmed the bathrooms were always going to be at this location.
In 2012, the city attempted to bid the restroom facility, but ultimately rejected all bids after the contractors questioned the Scope of Work in 2013. Fast forward to December of 2018, the city re-bid the project and during the January 8, 2019 meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve the bid–the staff report did not include plans of the project, a map, or real background of what had transpired since 2010.
During the bid award, not one councilmember thought to ask the City of where the placement of this bathroom would be. Not one councilmember raised the question of why the winning bid was $424,417 which was $77,417 more than the engineers estimate. Lastly, not one city councilmember thought to look at how this would impact the veteran’s memorial.
In an email Monday, Bernal explained:
“The original project encountered permitting and construction issues which contributed to delays in completing construction and significant cost escalation. The increased cost resulted in a reduction of the original project scope resulting in the proposed restroom structure and third boarding float being removed from the original project. In anticipation of the restroom being constructed in the future, utilities were stubbed to the current location in 2012.
Continuing to seek funding from the State for the restroom, a $400,000 grant was approved in 2016 to construct the restroom at the current location. The project was awarded in January of this year and construction has commenced. The building has been ordered. Relocating the facility at this point is not an option in my opinion. Staff is working on options to minimize the impact of the restroom as it relates to the Veterans Memorial which I believe can be done in a way that is acceptable to the veteran community.
In speaking with Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, she stated a 4-foot wall and some trees might be included in the future to create a buffer between the memorial and the restroom.
Wilson contends that will not satisfy the Veterans Community.
“The tip of our spear at L Street is now a toilet. Imagine a drone view of L Street with the veterans memorial with the Veterans memorial banners and to cap it off, they have a toilet,” said Wilson. “The pummel of the sword. We will have WW II Veterans take pictures in front of the Memorial with the toilet in the background. It will become a Memorial in name only. We will move the Veterans Day Ceremonies and redirect the Veterans Day Parade.”
You can’t blame them.
At this point, the city has two options which the City Council needs to now lead on this issue versus staff. Stop the project in its tracks immediately and work on a compromise with the Veterans. Or find another location for the restroom. Moving the memorial could be an option but highly unlikely from what I’ve been told.
The council should have been ahead of this, not act surprised and be placed in a reactionary position. Now they need to fix this erroneous error by city staff that is apparently a decade in the making.
The council should have already known the location, not act surprised that this is where its going—yes, multiple councilmembers had no idea where this restroom was going to be placed.
What staff should have done was create a restroom that also takes into account the L Street beautification project and created a bathroom with a façade of possibly a lighthouse, a boat, or something water related—it could have been a win for everyone and it would look attractive somewhere near the boat launch.
Instead, the City decides to piss off the veteran’s community by disrespecting them with the smell of feces and potential this restroom has with homeless now hanging around a veterans memorial.
In a city that is pushing how “opportunity lives here” while attempting to lure residents and business to Antioch, by poor planning, this city is actually taking away its own opportunity to work with and attract veterans.
The City Council must use common sense and stop this project immediately. I can’t imagine Antioch would like veterans related events without any veterans showing up.
That is optics the city of Antioch can’t afford.
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