There’s a big stink brewing in Brightwaters over a proposed bathroom at Wohseepee Park.
Mayor John Valdini wants to build a small bathroom — accessible only to residents with an electronic swipe key — in what is now a shed next to the park’s cabin. But some residents have expressed concern the bathroom will attract homeless people and lead to crime.
“The thought of an unattended, unisex, single-occupancy bathroom scares me very much,” said Virginia Agola. Agola, a village resident for more than 25 years, is worried homeless people will be lured to the park and "criminal activity" will increase.
“Safety is number one. I bought a house around the park because I love the park,” Agola said. “The park has been there over 90 years and there’s never been a bathroom. People who enjoy the park only live a few minutes away. We should do a study, come together as a community and really think about this."
Valdini said opposition to the bathroom is “bizarre.” He said a small group of vocal residents who are never at the park are leading the charge against it. Parents and their children at the park should have access to a restroom if nature calls, he said.
“Having a bathroom available to people makes sense,” Valdini said. “I didn’t know that people think of bathrooms as people selling drugs and homeless people moving in.”
Valdini has prioritized improving Wohseepee Park. He led an all-volunteer effort to renovate the 1,400-square-foot cabin that was built in 1926. About $175,000 in donated material and manpower led to upgrades at the cabin. The village-owned cabin has two indoor bathrooms, but is usually open to residents only for paid private events.
Valdini said while the cabin was being renovated, parents frequently asked to use portable bathrooms or the bathrooms inside the cabin.
Valdini proposes having the bathroom open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents would apply for an electronic bathroom key, for a small fee. There is a camera overlooking the bathroom, which was one of seven donated to the village when the cabin was being restored, Valdini said.
He envisions an eight-foot-by-10-foot bathroom. Unlike the cabin, the cost of the bathroom would be paid for by Brightwaters. Valdini said he’s considering putting the matter before the village board so there is more public discussion and a recorded vote.
Kenneth Lyndahl has lived in Brightwaters more than 35 years. He’s concerned residents will foot the bill to maintain the bathroom. He said people at the park should “use the bathroom at home.”
Lyndahl added: “We as taxpayers are going to have to pay for the vandalism. We’ve had teenagers hanging out at the park — it’s going to be a problem.”