Civic honchos demand gender-neutral bathroom in Fort Greene park

Civic honchos demand gender-neutral bathroom in Fort Greene park
Parks Department

He wants to take the binary out of going number one and number two!

The Parks Department must build a separate, gender-neutral bathroom as part of a pricey makeover of Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park comfort station, even though city law allows people to use whichever loo they identify with, according to a member of Community Board 2’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

“It doesn’t satisfy me that they can use any bathroom they feel closely aligned with — that’s not the answer,” said the committee’s vice chair Andrew Lastowecky at the Monday meeting. “I know certain transgender people that don’t feel comfortable with this ‘identify with whoever you are.’”

Parks officials presented the committee with a $3.1 million renovation of the bathrooms at the Flushing Avenue park, with plans showing a complete gut renovation of the interior, along with a new roof, windows, masonry, and accessibility upgrades.

The bathroom between the park’s baseball field and playground has not been renovated since the 1980s, and the city plans to finish the new design by spring 2020, paving the way for the comfort station’s reopening the following year, according to Parks architect Julie Fisher.

Lastowecky proposed cannibalizing parts of the comfort station’s mechanical room to make way for the gender-neutral stall, but a rep for the Parks Department said that there simply wasn’t room for a whole other stall, while referring to Mayor de Blasio’s 2016 decree essentially allowing New Yorkers to use whichever city bathroom they preferred.

“We’re squeezing a lot into this building and Commodore Barry [Park] desperately needs bathrooms,” said Jim Morris.

Lastowecky and his fellow committee members previously scolded green space gurus for not doing more for gender-non-conforming Brooklynites when they presented a renovation of a comfort station in Cadman Plaza Park in March.

The board’s assistant district manager agreed that the park was in dire need of additional bathrooms, and said the Parks Department should be looking at ways to increase the number of toilets to accommodate special events at the Fort Greene green space.

“You’re able to go into whichever bathroom you want to while we’re retaining the maximum amount of bathrooms — which I’m thinking, four, really?” said Carol-Ann Church. “When you have an event, four isn’t going to be nearly enough.”

The committee passed a purely advisory motion to approve the design, but Lastowecky noted that he didn’t want to wait decades for another renovation to get it right on gender-neutral facilities.

“Since this will take another 20 years before it’s touched again we’re not approaching it all over again, this is a newer project, so I’m a little disappointed,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kdugg[email protected]hnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
The city must install a gender-neutral bathroom at Commodore Barry Park’s comfort station, civic honchos demanded.
Photo by Kevin Duggan