Caddo Commissioner Mario Chavez is expected to introduce a resolution at the next Commission meeting to purchase and install a public restroom on the courthouse grounds.
Under consideration is a Portland Loo, a metal structure with a locking door and one toilet which is handicap accessible.
The total cost , including installation, could exceed $126,000.
Leaving the "politics" of the matter, there are many practical and legal issues that should be a part of the Commission deliberations.
Chavez believes that the loo will eliminate the problem of the "homeless" using the courthouse grounds as a public restroom.
The loo will be installed on the Milam Street side of courthouse.
Most of the "homeless" congregate on the Texas Street side of the building.
Whether the "convenience" of the nearly trees and bushes on the Texas side of the courthouse will be offset by the privacy afforded by walking around to the Milam Street side is a open question.
Another question is whether or not this public amenity wouldl serve as a "draw" for more "homeless" or vagrants to congregate in the 500 block of Texas. This is "the build it and they will come" theory.
Commissioner Matthew Linn’s belief that the timed opening of the loo door will prevent people from setting up camp in a loo is faulty. The door openings would only provide fresh air and sunshine to an inhabitant accustomed to living outside.
Another concern that the Commission should address is a possible failure of the loo door lock. What happens when an intruder enters the loo when it is occupied? Or when a loo user can not get out of the loo because the door will not open?
Maintenance of the loo must be addressed. The city of Portland spends over $18,000 per year to have loo maintained, including weekly power washes and minor repairs.
One wag suggested that the 12 Commissioners volunteer to be "loo janitor" for one month of the year.
Regulating activities within the loo is another matter. No doubt there will efforts by some to use the loo for purposes other than what is intended; these are limited only by one’s imagination.
The loo will be installed by the Commission on land owned by the City. Which public entity will be liable for any injuries incurred by those using or attempting to use the loo is another factor for review.
Many believe that installation of the proposed public restroom will create more problems that it solves.