Hyattsville will be spending a little bit of money to buy new, permanent public restrooms for two city parks. At its Sept. 21, 2020 City Council meeting, Hyattsville officials unanimously approved a measure allocating $240,000 to buy and install the toilets.
The toilets are “Portland Loos,” a single-occupancy public lavatory designed by municipal workers at the City of Portland to be installed at parks, plazas and public areas around the city. Since then, the city has licensed the design to other manufacturers, and copies can be found in several cities across the U.S. The ADA-compliant stainless-steel units look like heavy-duty art-deco porta-johns. They feature an outside hand-washing station, LED and sky-lighting, and can be solar powered if wanted.
In recent years, public policymakers have taken a renewed interest in public toilet infrastructure, which are seen as a way to reduce instances of public defecation and urination and as a way to attract visitors to parks and downtown areas. According to Hyattsville Department of Public Works Director Leslie Riddle, the Portland Loo toilets are designed to provide a utilitarian feature for both park users and residents experiencing homelessness who may have limited options to legally relieve themselves.
“We have the same needs,” said Riddle. “They provide a really awesome amenity and a clean and safe place for people to use the bathroom.”
The units have an initial cost of $90,000 each. Shipping and installation also added to the final costs. The toilets are planned to be installed, one each, at Heurich Park and at Hyatt Park.