Government Camp restrooms spared budgetary flushing

October 12, 2011

Perhaps it was the not so pleasant images of Mt. Hood visitors tromping into the woods with toilet paper in hand that prompted the fast action taken by Sen. Chuck Thomsen and Rep. Mark Johnson of Hood River, to ensure the survival of the highly trafficked public restroom facility at Government Camp.

At a roundtable meeting orchestrated by the two legislators on Sat., Oct. 8, in Welches, Thomsen announced a proposal that pulls together multiple partners in order to save the facility from demolition and provide for its ongoing operation and upgrade.

Thomsen describes the details of the proposal between agencies "a done deal."

According to Thomsen's announcement, Oregon Travel Experience, a sub-project of the Oregon Travel Information Council, will obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to operate the restroom, the only one between Madras and mountain ski areas, during the prime ski season, Dec. 1 to March 31.

"This is an important facility for some travelers on our highways," said Johnson in a statement.

OTE has agreed to provide staff at the site 24/7 for maintenance and operation until the Oregon Legislature, in Feb. of 2012, can decide whether to provide for ongoing funding.

ODOT has agreed to continue providing snow removal to the site and would provide $50,000 towards upgrades to the elderly building under OTE's operations. Clackamas County would provide for any uncovered operating costs through March 31.

ODOT, who has been responsible for the rest stop's maintenance and operation for 40 years, had planned on demolishing the structure. The $50,000 now offered for rehabilitation is what would have been spent on demolition.

ODOT was spending $7,500 per month in maintenance fees and the proposal to close the facility was made in response to a mandate to cut 2 percent of the agency's maintenance budget for the next two years. Other ODOT-maintained rest stops are also on the chopping block as well.

To ensure the Clackamas County portion of operation costs can be met; multiple partnerships have been formed, including recreation stakeholders in Government Camp.

Already operating other rest areas in the state, OTE has been recognized for its innovative operations strategies to keep the State's convenience stops operating properly.

The U.S. Forest Service is slated to build a new restroom at the Zigzag Ranger Station in the spring of 2012.

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