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‘Boo’ to the loo: Panned park can plan canned

Comfort in the middle: Neighbors hated this plan to plunk a bathroom in the middle of diminutive Valentino Park.
Department of Parks and Recreation

A pol has flushed plans for a pricey bathroom in a Red Hook park.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) axed a proposal for a $2.4 million privy in Valentino Park after neighbors railed against the project, saying it would crowd the green space and cost too much, but Menchaca said the demand for a commode nearby remains.

“This outcome does not change the fact that we need restrooms near Valentino Pier Park,” Menchaca said in a statement. “A diverse group of stakeholders — including small businesses, those that fish off of the pier, kayakers, and Red Hook public housing residents — have underscored the real need for bathrooms in this area. Let’s not forget that.”

Residents at a September community board meeting fumed that an initial bathroom plan would have split the park in two with a fortress-like facility, raised to meet new federal flood standards, and sporting lengthy wheelchair ramps. Revised plans drew muted praise at an Oct. 9 meeting, but cost was still a big concern of attendees.

Most of the money for the project was set aside from city funds by Menchaca’s predecessor, Sara Gonzalez. Menchaca, and Borough President Adams each tossed in another $250,000 of taxpayer money to meet costs added by the revising of federal flood maps after Hurricane Sandy. Menchaca said he was surprised by the opposition to what he thought was a widely in-demand project. He pledged to meet with constituents once more as part of the ongoing participatory budgeting process to hash out a loo blueprint that everyone can live with.

“When we stepped in, the assumption was that this idea was borne out of a community process, but what we learned was a real need to press the reset button and begin a new, truly participatory process,” he said in a statement.

Menchaca said he is exploring alternative ideas, including working with the developer behind Est4te, a massive new office complex planned on Coffey Street, to put a public bathroom in one of its private buildings.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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