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Relief at last at Volunteer Park: Bathroom to be installed

COURTESY PHOTO A similar public restroom, shown above, is slated to be installed at Volunteer Park.
A similar public restroom, shown above, is slated to be installed at Volunteer Park.

The construction sounds emanating from Volunteer Park on Bridge Street this week are related to the installation of the long-delayed bathroom that could be ready for use by the weekend.

That’s the word from Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. who said Monday the site was being prepped. The tank to receive wastes was expected to be moved to Volunteer Park on Tuesday morning. Once in place, cement work would get underway to frame the tank and provide a base for the bathroom unit.

“I don’t want to rush and do something wrong,” Mr. Card said about the importance of ensuring the installation would be the final chapter in a saga that has stretched over a two-year period, delayed by waiting for approval  from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

In June, Mr. Card was notified that he had “provisional approval” for installation of the permanent bathroom structure at Volunteer Park. That means the county health department has approved the long-pending installation of the unit, but could rescind its approval at any time, according to Mr. Card.

To avoid that happening, his crew wanted to work as fast as possible to get the unit installed, he said.

The order for the tank was placed as soon as Mr. Card and Town Engineer John Cronin believed in May they had fought their last battle with the health department and approval would be forthcoming.

It has been a long slog for the town that had expected rapid approval of the unit since Suffolk County had invested $67,000 toward its purchase. What finally helped move it forward was the intervention of County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac), who represents the Island.

The new unit will be pumped out regularly the same as a Port-A-Potty, although it will be far cleaner and more attractive than a generic portable bathroom, Mr. Card said.

In the interim, Jack Kiffer, owner of the Dory on Bridge Street, filed a lawsuit against the town, complaining that it should have taken steps years ago to install a public bathroom in the area so non-customers wouldn’t seek to use his restaurant facilities. That lawsuit will go forward, Mr. Kiffer said.

“The damage to me has already been done,” he said about what he termed “six-years of lies, and procrastination” by town officials since he first complained. The delays have cost him customers and “a lot of money,” he said.

While he said he’s hopeful that the problems he has endured are coming to an end, the town “still has to pay.”