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Covington to provide public restrooms downtown

Project spearheaded by Councilman Chris Smith

COVINGTON — The city’s goal of providing public restrooms in downtown will soon become a reality with a vote Monday night to purchase a building one-half block off the Square.

Councilman Chris Smith, who spearheaded the project, made a motion to purchase property at 1147 Washington St. for the appraised value of $88,800. The motion was approved unanimously, with Councilman Mike Whatley absent from the meeting. The current owner is Christina Benton, who previously operated a catering business at that location.

Smith said Tuesday morning that the property is the right size at 1,300 square feet and the right location — not facing the Square but convenient for those attending downtown events. The building already is handicapped accessible, he added.

The city will purchase the building with hotel/motel tax revenues, he said.

“We have that money set aside,” Smith said. “We have in excess of $200,000 in that account.”

Smith said that some renovations to the building will be necessary, but said it was too soon to tell how much that would cost.

Smith said providing public restrooms for downtown visitors has been a long-term goal of the council’s.

“We have had so many people ask us about it constantly,” he said. “There have been pros and cons, but by far more people wanted it.”

Smith said the restrooms will be sufficient for regular events on the Square, such as concerts and tours, but for larger events — like the Independence Day celebration that drew about 6,000 people — the city will need to bring in trailers with bathrooms.

Maintenance for the facility will likely be contracted out to a cleaning service, Smith said. That, too, will be funded through hotel/motel tax revenues.