Car Club, city may join forces to build bathroom downtown

Published 3:38 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

Default NW0508 DBA Downtown Bathroom

Citing a need for public bathrooms in the downtown area, Carter County Car Club president Randy Payne is ready to partner with the City of Elizabethton to help make such a plan become a reality.

Payne spoke to the Downtown Business Association on Thursday, and told the group that he has seen a need for rest rooms for a long time.

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“We need restrooms downtown, and so we are basically going ‘bumming,’ asking for money from different businesses to help fund the project,” he said.

The Car Club has been working already with local architecture firm Reedy & Sykes, and has developed a design, which Payne shared with the group.

The facility, which would be built on the corner of F Street and Armed Forces Drive, would feature three bathrooms — one ladies’ room and two unisex units. All will be handicap accessible and baby-changing stations will be included. It would be a brick structure, fashioned to look much like a train depot.

City Manager Jerome Kitchens echoed Payne’s reasoning for the restrooms.

“This is something we’ve needed for a long time,” Kitchens said. “The Car Club puts a lot of people in our downtown, and we need restrooms there, not only during the car club event, but throughout the week.”

Kitchens noted that more and more visitors are coming to downtown with the opening of the Tweetsie Trail and that having public restrooms is important.

He estimated the cost “in the $35,000 to $40,000 range,” adding that with donated labor and supplies, the cost could be significantly less.

“General Shale has already donated the block for the project, and 70 percent of the labor is also promised,” Kitchens said.

Kitchens noted a need for security and said the town is looking at buying automatic hardware that can lock the rest rooms at a preset time late at night.

“We (the City of Elizabethton) plan on maintaining it during the week,” he added, “and the Car Club will maintain it on the weekends. We would plan for it to be open from 7 a.m.–10 p.m., probably April through October.”

Ron McCloud, owner of Antiques on Elk, urged businesses to support the project.

“This would be good use of our money,” he told the group. “We have a problem with not having enough facilities and this would be a good opportunity to step up and partner with the City and the Car Club. This will allow our merchants to say ‘the public rest rooms are just down the street,” instead of having to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have a bathroom.’ ”