Downtown Auburn Restrooms/Pavillion Proposed
Article by Dave Kurtz | KPC News | September 24, 2019
AUBURN — A plan for public restrooms and a covered pavilion in downtown Auburn was presented to the DeKalb County Commissioners at their meeting Monday morning.
Mike Ley of Auburn showed his concept for a project he called Auburn Community Commons in the 200 block of East 7th Street, on land owned by the county along the north side of the street.
The pavilion would be open year-round and provide restrooms for events such as this week’s DeKalb County Free Fall Fair and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival over Labor Day weekend.
This year marks the first time restrooms inside the DeKalb County Courthouse were not open to the public during the two major events. A new security system at the courthouse began operation July 1, and access to the restrooms during special events has ended.
“We got to experience the result of courthouse restrooms being closed ACD weekend, and we’ve heard about it,” said Ley, who is first vice president of the DeKalb County Fair Association. “We’re probably going to hear about it all week” during the fair he added.
“We’ve got a solution. More than a solution, we’re going to build a community asset,” Ley added. “It’s more important that we’re constructing a community asset than solving an issue.”
He proposed a timetable that would see the pavilion completed by August 2020 or sooner, in time for next year’s Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival.
Ley said the fair board plans to promote the Auburn Community Commons project this week during the fair.
He estimated the cost of the project at $400,000. He said he has commitments for private funding as well as in-kind donations from construction contractors, and he is working to obtain more.
Ley’s plan calls for the City of Auburn to own and maintain the building and pay for utilities. That would require the county to permit the use of the site, either by donating it, selling it or leasing it to the city.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to utilize a plot of ground that has been sitting vacant for a number of years,” Ley said.
Ley, who owns Signature Construction in Auburn, is running as the Republican candidate for mayor of Auburn in the Nov. 5 election.
If he is not elected, he said, “I would hope any city administration would not hesitate to get on this plan and follow it.”
County Commissioners William Hartman and Jackie Rowan reacted positively to Ley’s proposal.
“I think it’s a great idea. I really think Auburn needs public restrooms,” Rowan said.
Commissioners President Don Grogg and county attorney James McCanna were not present for Monday’s meeting. Rowan said Grogg has expressed concerns about a structure being attached to the county’s office building at 220 E. 7th St.
“We are in favor of it,” Hartman told Ley. “I think Don will be, too.”
Ley said the restroom portion of the project would be 14.5 feet deep and 59 feet wide. The pavilion in front of the restrooms would be 50 feet deep and 59 feet wide. It would be covered by a roof with an 11-foot-high ceiling.
The structure could be brick with a design to tie into downtown Auburn’s historic buildings, Ley said.
Doors to the restrooms would be locked and unlocked remotely, and security cameras would protect the building, Ley said.
He suggested the restrooms should be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, year-round.
The women’s restroom would have five toilets; the men’s would have two toilets and three urinals. Each would have two sinks and a baby-changing station.
“There are numerous events taking place … that would no longer have to use temporary or portable facilities,” Ley said. Downtown businesses would not be inconvenienced by people coming inside only to use their restrooms.
The county, city and private sector would cooperate on the project, Ley said, adding, “In my opinion, this is how it should work as often as possible.”