City leaders discuss funding of state required restroom during council meeting held last Tuesday

JASON CHANEY - Wayne Looney of Prineville Kiwanis Club explains a model of the shade structures proposed for the new splash pad to members of the Prineville City Council during a meeting last week.

Thanks to multiple donations from different community organizations, the Prineville Kiwanis Club has banked enough money to build a new splash pad.

However, funding of some other ancillary amenities will be necessary to move the project forward, including construction of a public restroom at the west Stryker Field site.

Wayne Looney, who is helping spearhead the project, told Prineville City Council members last week that they have the necessary $150,000 needed to pay Anderson Poolworks to complete the project by as soon as late June. In addition, SMAF Construction has offered to complete the dirt work at the site, which includes terracing the area surrounding the site, and Wendels has volunteered to complete landscaping work. Also, local business owner Lance Romine is building large shade structures that will shield the hot summer sun from the terraced seating area.

Having cleared those hurdles and benefitted from the help of many organizations, Looney approached the City Council for funding to build a public restroom, a state requirement for such an attraction. Joe Floyd and Sons said they could build the concrete structure for $55,000.

"The way that this bathroom is constructed … there is a room in the middle," Looney said. "That room will allow us to put the plumbing and a lot of the mechanical in there."

City Engineer Eric Klann went on to note that the cost of building the restroom would exceed the $55,000 quoted by Joe Floyd and Sons because it would be necessary to bring power to the structure and adding plumbing fixtures. He suggested the council consider setting an upper limit on what the city would contribute to the project, perhaps $80,000.

Several council members pointed out that the downtown area currently lacks a public restroom, and adding one near the splash pad would fill an overall need the city has, regardless of the whether the attraction moves forward.

"It would be beneficial to have that available," said City Councilor Steve Uffelman.

City Manager Steve Forrester said that he and leaders of the city finance department have begun developing a draft of the 2018-19 city budget and they included an $80,000 line item to cover the restroom expense.

"The reason we did that is because if we didn't and we decided to go ahead, how would we do that?" he explained.

Forrester went on to stress that committing that total to the project would not preclude the city from meeting bond covenants or meeting established reserve policies. However, it would take away some money from public safety and street maintenance.

"That is what we are balancing, folks," he said. "That is the bottom line. Could (Police Chief) Dale (Cummins) use $80,000 to strengthen public safety? Yeah. Is this a great project that Wayne and Kiwanis are working on? Absolutely."

Councilor Jason Beebe later said the decision troubled him because he had set a personal goal to provide the police force with all of its needs before his term concludes at the end of 2020.

"I want to make sure if we help one, we are not taking too much away from the other."

Cummins then spoke, expressing his support for the project and construction of the restroom even if it meant a financial sacrifice for the police department.

"Every project they (Kiwanis) have done has been beneficial to this city and because of those benefits, it has helped to provide safety," he said, highlighting the toddler playground at Pioneer Park as an example. "I am firmly behind this. I think a project like this will draw people into the downtown area, and the more people who are in the downtown area, the less issues I tend to have."

Cummins acknowledged that he would have to wait two to four years to fund items he would have ordinarily paid for this coming year, but he said he could deal with that if it helped move the splash pad project forward.

"If I had a vote, I would sacrifice some of what we have to help support this project," he said.

In addition to funding the restroom, Looney requested help from the city, which owns the land chosen for the site, in signing a contract with Anderson Poolworks. He explained that since Kiwanis does not own the land, the organization cannot sign the contract.

City leaders, therefore, agreed to create a memorandum of understanding that would enable signing of the contract and would likely designate the Crook County Parks and Recreation District as maintainers of the splash pad going forward.

By the next City Council meeting, city staff planned to have the MOU completed and a resolution regarding it set for council approval. In addition, city leaders plan to firm up the financial limit for funding a new restroom.

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