It’s a well known fact that the stately Caddo courthouse grounds on the 500 block of Texas in the heart of downtown Shreveport has become, for some, an outdoor bathroom location. Sheriff Prator listed this problem as one of his justifications for the construction of a wrought iron fence around the courthouse square.
Caddo Commissioner Mario Chavez identified what he believes is a solution to this problem—install a public bathroom on the courthouse grounds. Chavez says that “if the main issue at our Courthouse is people using the lawn as a public bathroom, common sense says lets install a bathroom.” Chavez intends to introduce a resolution for the bathroom installation at the next Commission work session on October 9.
Chavez is looking at the installation of The Portland Loo, which is advertised to be “a unique solution to a universal problem”. The “Loo” literature says the toilet uses 1.28 gallons per flush. The electricity requirement for the toilet as relatively small with a max load of 60 watts at 110 volt circuit.
As far as cleaning and maintenance, the City of Portland contracts with a non-profit organization to provide janitorial/cleaning services a minimum of twice daily which includes the provision of soap an paper supplies, a weekly power wash, and minor maintenance and repair. The annual cost per unit for Portland is $18,666 or $1555 a month. Presumably, the Commission will decide how to handle these responsibilities when deciding on the purchase of a “Loo”.
The base price a non-solar loo is $90,000. Estimated cost for utility work for water, sewer and electrical is listed as $22,000-$25,000. Foundation work for the slab and finish is estimated to cost between $7200 and $9000. Shipping costs will be $3500 to $5000. And the installation cost for a crane, labor and hookup are estimated to be $3600 to $5000; crane access is required. Thus the total estimated cost is listed at $126,300 to $134,000. How much of these listed labors could be performed by Commission employees, at what amount of savings, is not yet known.
As they say in real estate circles, its location, location, location. And that will be the next issue the Commission must decide if a Loo is to be installed. A commission staffer advises that “it would be an extremely tight fit to place it (the Loo) in the area that currently has bushes in it on Marshall Street. It would have to go closer to the sally port door on the south end. There are no other viable options for placement. The only other locations that are on Parish property would involve removing the historic water trough and an Oak tree that is near the McNeil Street entrance.”
For those not that familiar with downtown Shreveport, the courthouse and grounds occupy the entire 500 block of Texas Street, with Texas Street on the north side and Milam on the south. Marshall Street runs north to south and it is on the east side of the courthouse. McNeil Street is on the west side. The McNeil Street entrance is used by courthouse personnel including judges; it is not open to the public. The Marshall Street side of the courthouse has 2 sally doors; prisoners are transported in and out of the building through these doors. The public can also enter on this side. Thus the suggested location of the Loo would be on the Milam Street side of the courthouse near McNeil Street.
It will be interesting, to say the least, to see the public reaction to this proposal. If nothing else it will provide a welcome (?) distraction from the continuing hubbub over removal of the Confederate Monument, and the increasing noise over the suggested courthouse fence. Some skeptics have already mused that the public restroom would encourage more homeless people to “hang out” at the courthouse. Others have surmised that a Loo would be a good place for those that want to “light one up”, either to celebrate what their courthouse visit, or to fortify themselves for the same. One can expect much public discussion on this issue which no doubt will also become a hot topic on social media.