Sure, public restrooms — especially those in public parks — are gross, but should taxpayers really be on the hook for expensive bathroom projects?
The City, a nonprofit New York news outlet partnered with New York Magazine, reported that New York City completed a $4.7 million bathroom facility at the Bronx’s Ferry Point Park West. The City wrote that it was the “most expensive park bathroom ever.”
Further, the outlet found that the average park restroom was costing taxpayers a little under $3.6 million, which is nearly triple what the Parks Department spent in 2011.
Republican City Council Member Joe Borelli told the outlet that these costs were “borderline astronomical.”
Prices for these park bathrooms have been steadily climbing in recent years. A $6 million public bathroom is slated for Staten Island’s Seaside Wildlife Nature Park. Borelli told The City the cost was high due to flood-zone requirements adopted after Hurricane Sandy, but said he supported the costly bathroom since his constituents have paid for other expensive projects.
But cost isn’t the only problem with these restrooms, The City reported. That $4.7 million Ferry Point bathroom took 12 years to build.
“A contract for the $4.7 million structure shows the bills added up quickly, with the metal roofing alone running over $460,000. A five-wave bike rack, installed nearby, was listed in the document as running $6,000. Similar racks retail online for $450,” The City reported.
Leave it to the government to spend 13 times more on an item than can be bought in the private sector.
The City even included a side-by-side photo comparing the $6,000 bike rack to a $1,500 one at the Aqueduct Walk in Fordham Heights. They look exactly the same.
The news outlet noted that the price of public bathrooms varies widely across the five boroughs, with one in the Bronx costing “just” $1 million (it is at the same park as the cheaper bike rack). A former Parks Department commissioner told the outlet that bathrooms were the “bane” of his existence because Parks contracts were reviewed by five separate government agencies, which causes constant delays.
These delays incentivize contractors to greatly increase the price of their bids on such projects. Geoffrey Croft, who works with NYC Parks Advocates, told the outlet how the racket works.
“There’s no way to explain it. It’s not inflation. It’s not cost of materials. The word is out that you can charge these guys exorbitant prices,” Croft said.
And to add insult to injury, the restrooms aren’t even open year-round, meaning taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for seasonal restrooms.
If New York is wondering why people are fleeing the state, this is a perfect example.