City of Eau Claire will be removing portable toilets from parks

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Budget cuts have forced the city of Eau Claire to remove all of the portable toilets out of city parks by the end of this week.

The city says it costs about $30 a week to upkeep the portable toilets at the parks and with 11 portable toilets the city will save nearly $20,000 a year by removing them all.

"It's an important amenity that we need to have in all of our parks,” said park goer, Pat Williams of Eau Claire. For years the city of Eau Claire has placed their own portable toilets at the parks and payed to maintain them. “We have a septic system contract that we have them go out and clean it out,” said Jeff Pippenger, the city’s community services director.

But because of budget cuts the city had initially decided all 11 of the portable toilets would be removed, including at Otter Creek Dog Park. "The porta potty has been for many years and we have never had it go away,” said Pat Williams who frequents the dog park.

The city says it is currently paying close to $20,000 a year to keep up with maintenance and it's a cost they just can't afford anymore. "We're going to be taking them out on Friday, the ones that are in the parks that we typically put out in different locations during the winter time, we will be bringing those in and storing them,” Pippenger said.

The city owned portable toilets will be removed, but the city did strike up a deal to allow both dog parks to use the portable toilets with the costs coming from the dog park budget instead. "Because this brings in so much money we could easily afford to sustain the porta pottys here,” Williams added.

They will be using the fees from dog licenses to pay for service instead of tax payer dollars, but for the other parks that aren't self-sustaining they will lose their portable toilets permanently. "Our hope is that in the future we will be able to find a resolution to this and that we will be able to provide these out there,” Pippenger said.

The City of Eau Claire is still discussing with other groups that use specific parks to see if they can make a similar deal that they did with the dog park. But for now, the remaining portable toilets will all be removed from the parks on Friday.

Winter locations that will be affected are: Carson Park, Owen Park, Phoenix Park, Sundet Park and Pinehurst Park. The summer locations that will be impacted are: Riverview Park, Carson Park, Rod & Gun Park, Forest St. Community Garden and County Farm Park.