The restrooms at the Event Site and the Marina have needed upgrades for a long time now, and the Port of Hood River is working to remodel both structures to meet ADA standards and accommodate increased usage.

While both buildings have received maintenance and upgrades throughout the years, the buildings need more extensive remodels to handle the increased usage over the last five years.

Back in September 2018, the port entered into a contract with a local architect, Liz Olberding, to review the existing restroom structures and render potential redesigns. She presented her work to the Board of Commissioners during its March 5 meeting.

While no decisions were made, port staff will continue working with Olberding on finalizing designs and figuring out project costs.

The marina restrooms were built in 1998 and don’t meet current ADA requirements — particularly in regard to a steep incline leading up to the restroom entrance. ADA allows slopes no greater than 4.8 degrees; Olberding estimates the current slope is at least a 10 degree incline, if not greater.

“Basically, we need to provide a ramp that’s longer and more meandering” to lessen the slope’s incline, she said.

Olberding recommended rebuilding the asphalt between the parking lot, the existing path and the restroom entrances to create a more gradual slope. “So far, I think this is a pretty straightforward solution,” she said. “We’re looking for a simple solution that also marries to the park setting that it’s in.”

Concerning the restroom itself, Olberding said that the overall structure is sound but recommended minimal upgrades, such as replacing guide bars and sinks. Better lighting is also needed surrounding the structure, particularly on the west side, said Waterfront and Marina Manager Daryl Stafford.

Despite the fact that the Event Site’s restrooms are newer than the marina’s, the Event Site is in need of a significantly more extensive remodel. “The overall picture is that there’s just not enough restrooms here,” Olberding said. Since a significant portion of restroom-users have been using it as a private place to change out of wetsuits, Olberding said, she proposed adding in outdoor, fenced-in changing areas on either side of the building. She also recommended extending the room to create a larger covered area for skiiers waiting for the Mount Hood Meadows shuttle.

“All of this is in the mindset of doing something that’s simple and inexpensive,” Olberding said. She added that the restroom’s position doesn’t allow for expansion of the building itself without significantly affecting the Event Site.

Commissioners expressed concern that the proposed changing area design wouldn’t provide adequate privacy, especially for women. When asked for her personal opinion on the design’s level of privacy, Olberding said that she thinks “it’s a reasonable accommodation” and added that it was carefully planned with privacy in mind.

The hope is that the addition of the changing areas will decrease demand on the restrooms themselves, but Stafford said it is only part of the solution that they need.

“It (the restroom structure) is at capacity and there’s not anything (Olberding) can do with the inside to add toilets. It’s maxed out,” she said. “Through all of July and August, we would have to have port-a-potties down there.”

McElwee suggested building another restroom at the Event Site, potentially near Lot 1, to accommodate summer usage. “Even though it’s a seasonal restroom, it’s in such a high-priority location,” he said. “If there’s a need for a restroom, I would not do it here (Event Site.)”

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