At their upcoming meeting on June 1, 2020, the Mill Valley City Council will consider rescinding their previous direction to construct a public restroom in Sycamore Park.
Staff will recommend removing the project from the City’s Priority Project List and eliminating funding from the Capital Improvement Program Budget, based on anticipated operational challenges, financial impacts, and considerable community resistance to the project.
“We have heard the significant public opposition to the restroom loud and clear,” Interim Director of Arts and Recreation Sean McGrew said. “Other factors leading to our recommendation to terminate the project include the changes to the park’s floodway designation and the increased cost of the project.”
“It is our recommendation that it’s time to officially rescind the project and move on to other things,” he said.
On June 1, Council will hear the report and consider voting to end the project. Staff will include all public correspondence submitted over the past several months in the report reviewed by Council.
Sycamore Park is a popular facility used by all ages, and after the community-based reconstruction of the play structure in 2005, members of the community expressed a desire for a public restroom. Staff worked for several years to develop a project design and preferred location, with the project placed on hiatus for a few years during and after the great recession.
In 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated most of the park as a floodway. This designation required the City to design a portable restroom that workers could remove from the floodway during projected flood conditions.
In 2018, the City developed construction plans for a compact, single unit, ADA compliant removable restroom. However, the size of the restroom and equipment needed to remove it during floods would require the City to obtain an easement from adjacent property owners. Furthermore, if anticipated flood conditions warranted, work crews would have to disconnect and remove the restroom structure while concurrently addressing citywide storm and flood issues.
The design changes of the restroom associated with portability increased the cost of the project to approximately $250,000. The new restroom would also present associated maintenance and supply costs, which are not currently included in the City’s operational budget
Staff hosted a community meeting on March 5, 2020 at the Mill Valley Community Center to solicit input on the project. Approximately 35 members of the public attended the meeting with more than 20 providing public comment. All speakers stated opposition to the project. Additionally, staff received 82 emails with 71 opposed to the project.
For these reasons, Staff will recommend removing the project from the City’s Priority Project List and eliminating funding from the Capital Improvement Program Budget.
If you have contacted the City via email, postal letter, or participated in the March 5 Community Meeting, you do not need to contact the City again, unless you have new information or perspectives you would like to share. The Staff Report will include any previously submitted communications with the City Council.
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