Plans for building gender-neutral bathrooms in two Ames parks gained the Ames City Council’s attention Tuesday night.
The two parks in question are Brookside Park, located at 1325 Sixth St., and Inis Grove Park, located at 2500 Duff Ave.
The project to renovate Brookside Park Restroom, which was damaged by a fire in 2018, will eliminate the current male and female restrooms and replace them with four gender-neutral and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant facilities.
According to the Council action form, the roof will be rebuilt and the shingles replaced with a brown metal roof. Skylights for each restroom will be added to allow natural light in, reducing the need for lights to be on during the day. Infrared occupancy sensors are to be installed and will turn on lights based on the occupant’s body temperature.
This feature will serve multiple purposes, as it will not only turn on the lights when needed, but will also allow the lights to stay on as long as someone is inside and illuminate the dome on the skylight. If this happens outside of park hours, the lit dome will be an indicator for police to check the restroom while they are on patrol.
At the Ames City Council meeting Tuesday night, motions for the renovations of the Brookside Park Restroom Renovation Project were moved to the second alternative, which is to accept the report of the bids but not award a contract for the time being.
This motion will allow the Council to reach out to bidders and discuss the cost of the project beforehand.
"Unfortunately, the two bids received for reconstruction of the damaged Brookside restroom were both higher than the architect's estimate and more costly than the available funds for reconstruction,” said Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen, one of two at-large representatives. “The bids came in at $295,000 and $380,000, while current allocated funding is $223,606. This restroom repair is essential, as Brookside is a high-traffic and much loved park. Options include re-bidding the project or diverting funds from other planned park system renovations."
There are currently two restroom buildings in Inis Grove Park. One is located adjacent to Duff Avenue and was constructed in 1993. The other is located near Shagbark Shelter in the northeast part of the park and was constructed in the early 1950s.
According to the Council action form, after the city assessed both restrooms, it was decided to update the restroom along Duff Avenue, decommission the restroom near Shagbark Shelter and add a new restroom near the north end of the tennis courts that would be connected to the city’s sanitary sewer system.
The exterior of the new building will include a limestone veneer on three sides that complements the limestone features of Walnut Shelter in the park. There will also be a metal roof similar to the other new shelters recently added to the park system.
Additionally, the building will be ADA accessible with two gender-neutral restrooms. Each restroom will contain a toilet, urinal, sink, adult changing table, LED lighting, hand soap/sanitizer dispensers and hand dryers. The exterior of the building will have an ADA accessible water fountain with a bottle filler. The adult changing tables will be the first ones constructed in the Ames park system.
The Council did not approve the plans and specifications at this time in order to have time to assess the bids for the Brookside Park project and delay the Inis Grove Park Restrooms Project.