Pass Christian Harbor has unique solution to waterfront bathrooms

lwalck@sunherald.com Twitter:July 14, 2014 

Engineers working on the new Pass Christian Harbor have found a unique solution for the bathrooms, working around a slew of post-Katrina regulations on waterfront structures.

A mix of permanent and portable, an open-air pavilion covers a raised, handicap-accessible platform that leads to a trailer containing seven bathroom stalls -- four for the ladies and three for men. The trailer can be moved north in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.

The total cost to build one is only $115,000, far less than the $1.2 million the Coast Transit Authority spent for four comfort stations in Gulfport and Biloxi.

City attorney Malcolm Jones' idea said the council wanted to make the bathrooms easily accessible.

The structures would have had to be as high as the new harbor master building, he said, which is about 20 feet off the ground.

"The concern we had was with the new flood maps they were going to be up in the air quite a distance," Jones said.

Maximizing funding for the rest of the harbor was also a concern.

"We wanted to try to put bathrooms in that would be easier to access, particularly for folks that are handicapped, and also that would save us money," he said. "We could use the construction funds for things at the harbor and not for super-expensive bathrooms."

CTA Executive Director Kevin Coggin said the four comfort stations were built to replace what was destroyed. They are also handicapped-accessible, serve as bus stops and have a water fountain, bike rack and vending machines.

"We rebuilt what was there previously to current codes and standards," he said, adding it would not be feasible to move the amount of trailers needed for Gulfport and Biloxi beaches for every storm.

Coggin said CTA was in close talks with representatives of the tourism industry during the design process, and a top concern was aesthetics.

"The aesthetics of (the Pass facility) and the functionality of it is not at the level that the tourism community would have liked," he said.

He added CTA would consider similar options if more facilities were necessary, but the four comfort stations are sufficient for the time being.

A second bathroom structure was planned for the commercial side of Pass harbor, but it was one of the changes made after costs were higher than expected, Jones said. For now there will be a five-unit trailer there until funding becomes available.

The city will contract with a company to move the trailers to the police station on Espy Avenue, which did not flood during Hurricane Katrina.

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