ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Neighbors of one Albuquerque park are tired of seeing people going to the bathroom in public. They said it’s a common problem because at most city parks, there’s nowhere to go but behind the trees.
“They just urinate wherever they want to,” said Julie Webster.
Webster walks along a trail near Santa Fe Village Park on the Westside nearly every day. She said often times she sees people hunkered down in the bushes near the park going to the bathroom.
“It is gross,” said Webster. “I want to stop it. I wish we had some type of restrooms or facilities.”
There are 288 parks in Albuquerque. Fewer than 10 of them have public restrooms.
Latrice Oldham has a 2-year-old son; she says that makes the dilemma even harder.
“It is hard because if he has to go or I have to go, we have to go somewhere else to go to the bathroom and that’s kind of difficult especially if he wants to play or we just got here,” said Oldham.
KRQE News 13 spoke with Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation Department about the problem.
“The sad news is because of the expense the parks and rec department has not been able to put more bathrooms in more parks,” said Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director Garry Wolfe.
Real bathrooms like the ones at Tingley Beach cost the city about $200,000 to install. Then, there’s the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to maintain the few bathrooms the city does have.
“There’s no way for us to staff the Parks and Recreation Department to allow crews to get to all of our parks that have bathrooms and clean the bathrooms on even a daily basis,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe said another big problem is vandals. One time, officials said someone ripped out a tree from a park, lit on fire then threw it into a stall.
“We have had bathrooms in parks where we have had to close bathrooms because of vandalism and elicit uses,” said Wolfe.
Webster said she understands the city’s concerns, but doesn’t want to see people going to the bathroom in the park’s bushes anymore.
“Keep it clean for my dogs and me to walk through and not smell,” she said.
Other factors that go into adding park restrooms are service connections, visual impact from the street or neighbors, ease of maintenance access and conflicts with drainage structures.
Sports leagues that use city parks must have porta-potties on game days.