Group seeks downtown ABQ public bathrooms

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque may follow in the footsteps of Portland and Seattle and install public bathrooms downtown.

Many businesses say too often they’re greeted by smelly surprises outside their front doors and they’re hoping this restroom proposal changes that.

Business and property owners along with local churches and neighborhood associations are hoping for a couple new public bathrooms to help keep the area clean.

“This impacts my business almost every day,” said James Black, owner of 111 Media Collective.

Most mornings that Black opens his t-shirt shop downtown on 4th Street, there’s something unpleasant to clean up on the ground.

“There will be urine stains every time I come back,” Black said.

And he’s not the only one. Warehouse 508 employees say they deal with a mess of urine and feces too.

“We have to go out and clean it, on the facilities walls,” said Faustiano Vialla, a mural instructor at Warehouse 508.

It’s a problem that many blame on a lack of public bathrooms in the area.

“There are two port-a-potties that are located downtown,” said Todd Clarke, Board Chair of the Downtown Action Team.

Pointing to a port-a-potty, Clarke said, “you can definitely identify that, that’s a bathroom. Question is, is it something you and I would want to use?”

Clarke, the Downtown Action Team, local business owners and neighbors are hoping to change that.

“There was a unanimous consensus that we don’t have enough public facilities available,” said Clarke.

The group is now planning to put two new permanent public bathrooms in the downtown area.

“One in the core or downtown and another one between downtown and Old Town, for a lot of tourists who come up and down Route 66,” said Clarke.

He compares downtown’s problem to the one Albuquerque’s Old Town faced about a decade ago.

“They put something in place and we expect to do the same,” said Clarke.

Exact locations and the money to pay for it are still up-in the air, but the group says it will keep downtown clean and significantly the help the businesses who see most of the traffic. The downtown library arguably sees some of the most traffic. They’ve counted as many as 400 people using their facilities between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

“They clean the bathrooms repeatedly and even then it’s not really successful,” said Clarke.

There is some concern though about the possibility of what people could do inside the bathrooms.

“Sometimes you have people that will go in there and they like to use their drugs in there,” said Terry Anderson, an Albuquerque man who was walking in Old Town on Wednesday.

But business owners like James Black say they’re confident public bathrooms can help to solve the issue.

“I think we need some sort of solution a public restroom, somewhere where people can go besides the front of my shop,” said Black.

The group says the project already has support from Mayor R.J. Berry’s office and the Albuquerque City Council. The group says the bathrooms would ideally be privately run, open 24 hours a day and likely funded with city money.

They hope to have the fine details ironed out by the end of the year. The group is also looking to rent mobile bathrooms for the downtown bar crowd to use on Friday and Saturday nights along Central Avenue.

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