Elkhart Lake on right path with public bathroom

IN ELKHART LAKE, THEY’RE standing ready to turn a simple public bathroom into something more.

Village officials are weighing erecting a public restroom facility in the village park between the Grashorn Municipal Building and the Village Square, to serve shoppers, visitors, and guests at downtown events.

It’s one thing that most – especially those involved in downtown business and tourism – would agree is desperately needed.

Lots of people come to downtown Elkhart Lake throughout the year, whether’s it’s to visit the quaint little shops, dine at the fabulous restaurants, or enjoy the many special events there – from the regular farmers’ market on summer weekends, vintage and sports car parades, Schnee Days, Downtown Night, the Fireman’s Picnic parade and more.

One thing many of those visitors find is that there is no public place to answer the call of nature – especially for events that draw big crowds, which happens often in Elkhart Lake.

That’s why village officials decided that it would be worthwhile to build a public facility in the downtown area. But just building a simple bathroom wouldn’t be enough for this resourceful and friendly little village.

Trustee Geoffrey Bray, who has been spearheading the effort to build the bathroom, presented the latest proposal to the Village Board’s Municipal Planning and Development Committee earlier this month and it was a great plan.

The proposal would combine the bathroom with the current Chamber of Commerce offices on Rhine Street at the corner with Arno Way.

The bathrooms would be attached to the chamber building, west of the building, with a common lobby area between them.

In addition to providing the needed public facility, it would give the chamber needed extra space for information kiosks and displays, to meet with visitors and answer inquiries. It would, as Bray said, make for a structure that would double as a more visible tourist information center and a public bathroom.

That kind of double-duty building would be worthwhile on its own. But the plan also would address another need – making the chamber offices fully handicapped-accessible, which Bray noted they are not now. That’s not just a bonus, but a laudable bonus as well.

By combining the two buildings, the new facility would also minimize the impact of the public bathrooms on the picturesque and welcoming little village park.

While it would require the removal of a few trees, it would have no impact at all on the rest of the park features, including the playground area, gazebo and Pledge Allegiance statue. And the trees could be replaced elsewhere in the park, as the village will be looking at planting trees there to replace ash trees that will have to be removed to fi ght the Emerald Ash borer invasion.

The plans need to be fine-tuned, finalized and approved, then the village will face probably the biggest challenge to the project – finding the $100,000 to $150,000 it will likely cost to build it.

But that’s a challenge that village officials should be able to meet. And they know that, if they build it, they will come.

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