If you're in need of a restroom in West Richland, avoid Flat Top Park. The facilities there have been closed since October.
That's when vandals destroyed them -- twice. The restrooms were vandalized mid-month, repaired, and vandalized again a week later.
"It's amazing, the damage," said Roscoe Slade, West Richland's public works director. "Sinks were ripped off the walls and broken into itty-bitty pieces, rocks and anything else they could find were shoved down into the pipes. It either took some time or several people. I've not seen this level of destruction before."
The first repairs cost $1,000, Slade said. Instead of simply replacing the broken fixtures again, he hopes to upgrade the restrooms with stainless steel and increase the security by installing automatic locks and surveillance cameras.
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Slade and his staff are researching prices and putting together an estimate, which likely will total several thousand dollars. He will submit it to the city council in the coming weeks.
"There's no money in the park budget to do it. Our insurance has a $1,000 deductible, so any repairs like this come right out of the park budget, which is already short. That's why we haven't repaired them (again)," he said.
The plan is to have the restrooms repaired and upgraded before spring. They'll remain locked until then.
"It's a big inconvenience and people are frustrated. Fortunately there's nothing scheduled, the parks see just casual use this time of year," he said.
The West Richland Police Department has no suspects and welcomes any information that could help catch the vandals. The nonemergency line is 628-0333. Tips can be left anonymously.
"What's so surprising, we don't have a vandalism problem, not in West Richland," Slade said. "And then to be hit twice, this bad, it's frustrating. Sometimes we see minor stuff, toilet paper stuffed in the toilets, writing with a marker on the walls, dumped trash cans, but nothing like this."
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org