The Olympia City Council decided Tuesday to remove a portable toilet from the Commons at Fertile Ground after receiving a letter of complaint from the nonprofit’s president.
The toilet was installed at the site, at the intersection of Adams Street and Ninth Avenue, early this year after the council approved a plan to increase the number of 24-hour toilets downtown.
But Chris van Daalen, president of the Friends of the Commons at Fertile Ground, wrote in a letter that the toilet was a “failed experiment.”
“Unfortunately, the port-a-potty has attracted undesired behaviors and elements to our property that have frankly been disruptive and damaging to the positive, beautiful, community-oriented space we maintain here,” van Daalen wrote.
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Since the toilet was installed, Fertile Grounds has experienced an increase in smoking, loitering and drug use, he wrote. Large amounts of trash were left behind by visitors. Abuse of the toilet itself often left it unusable. People near the toilet were sometimes physically and verbally violent — including uttering racial slurs, he said.
The council briefly discussed the decision during its Tuesday night meeting.
“Unfortunately, it just did not go well in that location,” Councilwoman Jeannine Roe said.
Mayor Cheryl Selby said Fertile Ground initially asked that a portable toilet be placed at the location.
The toilet was one of several 24-hour toilets in downtown Olympia. The city most recently installed a Portland Loo toilet at the Artesian Commons Park.
See the full letter from Chris van Daalen here: