So this is what a $2 million public bathroom looks like.
The long-awaited comfort station at Elmhurst Park, with its edgy design and spacious bathrooms, has finally opened its doors.
And local civic leaders say its better suited for a museum than a busy Queens park.
“This breaks all the rules of form follows function,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association as he stood outside the building on Tuesday. “There’s an obscene amount of wasted space here. Shouldn’t this money go to pay for more cops or for more parks maintenance?”
The park, built on the former site of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks, has been open for over a year. Scores of kids and adults have flocked to the park to enjoy its rolling hills, sitting areas, sprinklers and and brightly colored playground equipment.
But until a few weeks ago, parkgoers needing a bathroom break were forced to use a few portable toilets parked along the perimeter.
Parks Department officials said that the site’s history required contractors with the ability to test and monitor the site for possible contaminants.
The new comfort station is a striking building, with a facade of curved brick and glass blocks.
Inside the cavernous men’s side, just two urinals and two sinks take up the outer area. There is a single toilet in a handicapped-accessible stall. Lime green and white tiles line the walls in a funky, geometric pattern.
The women’s room features three stalls including one that is handicapped-accessible and two sinks. Its walls have a similar pattern in orange and white tiles.
Each room has a diaper changing table built into the wall.
Back when it was initially approved in 2010, the price tag for the comfort station was $1.9 million. It has since ballooned to about $2.3 million.
“Public buildings are exposed to more intense use than typical private buildings,” a Parks Department spokesman said in a statement. “To extend the life of the building and to reduce maintenance costs we use more durable materials.”
“It should be noted that one of the most common complaints of our traditional comfort stations is that they are dark and cramped,” he said.
Holden and Anthony Nunziato, who launched an aggressive campaign that helped convinced city officials and Keyspan Energy to turn the former industrial site into a park, said they are convinced the facility could have been built at less than half the cost.
“It’s overbuilt and oversized,” said Nunziato. “How does this help all the kids who use this park?”
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