Locking public restrooms in parks: Option for trimming Pueblo's budget

Council president calls it a 'worst-case scenario'

Locking public restrooms in parks: Option for cutting budget

PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo City Council needs to cut close to $1 million to balance next year's budget. One proposed idea isn't sitting well with some residents-- locking restrooms in five parks.

If the city closed the bathrooms in five neighborhood parks, it would save an estimated $55,000 a year. The parks being considered are: J.J. Raigoza, Vinewood Park, Elizabeth Street Parkway, Belmont Park, and Bradford Park.

Bernie Jesik says closing the restrooms there is a bad idea.

"To me as far as cutting costs, you would think they wouldn't cut the most basic needs first," Jesik said.

Steven Meier, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, proposed the idea to council during Monday's work session. Meier offered the idea as a way to tackle the department's $226,000 shortfall.

"To me, the closing of the bathrooms is probably a worst-case scenario," said Council President Sandy Daff.

The notion of closing restrooms to save money isn't new in Pueblo. The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo closed one of two sets of bathrooms on the Riverwalk this year because there wasn't enough money.

Last week, Rainee Edwards and her elderly father were walking on the Riverwalk when her father had to use the bathroom.

"We had to quickly run him to the other bathroom by the sushi place and it was thank goodness, open. But it had been closed a couple of weeks before that," she said.

Councilman Steve Nawrocki said department heads are trying to find viable cuts but added they're not always realistic.

"I think it's getting more and more difficult to try to figure out where they can cut," Nawrocki said.

Council needs to have a balanced budget by November. Daff and Nawrocki said laying off city employees is not an option. 

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