Tag Archives: portable toilet

Parks & Rec Postpones Toilet, Smoking Votes

Two big changes — a portable toilet at Old Mill Beach, and a smoking ban at all beaches and town recreation areas — were on Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission agenda last night.

No action was taken — though not for lack of interest.

“06880” intern Colin Morgeson reports there was plenty of concern about the proposed port-a-potty. It would be kept away from the 64 parking spots, guard shack, and 39 nearby private properties.

Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava noted, “there kinda isn’t a good location.”

Commission member Chrissy O’Keeffe asked, “What do we want Old Mill to be? To me it’s a beautiful little enclave, not the kind of place you would go for a whole day. That’s something everyone in town knows about Old Mill.”

A vote was postponed, due to the absence of the lead petitioners asking for the toilet.

A portable toilet on Old Mill Beach would be situated away from parking spaces — and homes.

The commission then discussed smoking at town beaches, pools, athletic fields and racquet courts, and where — if at all — the use of tobacco and cannabis should be permitted. A ban would not include the Longshore golf course, passive town parks or parking lots.

Members focused on how surrounding communities have approached the issue. Smoking bans based on proximity to amenities have worked, as opposed to wide bans.

O’Keeffe noted the importance of communication, to minimize confusion.

A vote was postponed to a future date.

There’s a lot of room at Compo Beach. Would a smoking ban work there? (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Though the town’s tennis courts are in better condition than in recent years, commissioners also heard concerns about softness at Longshore tennis. Resident Lloyd Clareman recommended increasing the amount of water and calcium chloride.

Parks & Rec operations manager Carmen Roda reported that adjustments have been made in the timing and frequency of watering. Calcium chloride is being worked into the budget.

(There’s always something going on at our beaches — and on “06880.” Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

[OPINION] Doctor Dumps On Port-A-Potties

Dr. Jay Walshon is a longtime Westporter. He spent 35 years as a chairman and director of emergency medicine; is a past director of EMS for South Central Connecticut, and the EMS advisory board; a 3-term president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, and recipient of the 2016 Phil Stent Achievement Award in Emergency Medicine.

On May 7, he spoke at a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting of his concerns about using portable toilets at recreational facilities. He shared those concerns in a letter to town officials. Dr. Walshon says:

It was recently announced that the new bathroom facilities at South Beach will remain closed owing to virus related concerns. This seems prudent, as those permanent restrooms are significantly more difficult to keep safe from spreading contagion. In addition, I support the cautious reopening public spaces for resident enjoyment.

Bathroom facilities at Compo Beach will be closed … (Photo/Matt Murray)

However, as a medical professional I must respectfully point out that the choice to rely upon portable toilets at the beach potentially presents serious unnecessary and unjustifiable risks to public safety.

The premise that portable toilets are safe is not one which survives scrutiny when a highly contagious organism like COVID-19 is involved.

Current CT statistics indicate that 99% of Westport residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

We know there is significant community spread by pre-symptomatic viral shed for 2-3 days – including in diarrhea – and those devoid of classic signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Given that between 25 and 50% of COVID-19 infectious people might not be aware they are spreading the virus, 2,000 beachgoers from Fairfield County will likely include people who pose unsuspecting risk. Odds are that some who are contagious will utilize these enclosed spaces. We will not know who or how many.

Viral particles can be found in the air for up to 3 hours, and droplets survive on hard surfaces for 3 to 4 days, rendering poorly ventilated confined public spaces such as portable toilets dangerous to unsuspecting users.

Despite seasonality, UV light and humidity effects, COVID-19 transmission will not be aborted and may not even significantly diminish. Current mitigation is grounded in assuming everyone may be contagious.

… and be replaced by portable toilets. (Not this many — it’s a fireworks file photo!)

Using a toilet facility after someone who unwittingly aerosolized viral particles by coughing, sneezing, spitting, diarrhea, flushing, etc. can result in infection via inhaling micro-droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. While flushing does not occur, their poorly ventilated confined spaces can increase air and surface contamination. Outdoor spaces may provide elements mitigating viral spread, but port-a-potties provide environments that are the antithesis.

While I understand the these potties will be subject to “a stringent cleaning and sanitization protocol” by maintenance staff, to be reliably effective, disinfection needs to be performed between users by trained personnel wearing proper protective garments – a challenging and arduous task for our Parks staff in summer heat, and exposing them to undue risk.

These toilets will create queues of people who must maintain social distancing and wear face coverings within to optimally mitigate contamination, and they will encourage longer stays and larger gatherings – something we might wish to avoid at this juncture.

Compounding the risk is absence of hand washing stations. Residents will be unable to effectively cleanse as “sanitizer” is merely an adjunct to proper hand washing technique with soap and water.

The inconvenient truth is that for reopening public spaces where gatherings are inevitable, public toilet facilities are not safe spaces at this time.

Unless our residents can be assured otherwise, from an epidemiological perspective the port-a-potties represent an unnecessary and unjustifiable health risk to individual and community health. If effective mitigation against viral spread is the healthcare priority for Westport, providing portable toilets to the public during this early reopening phase may be inadvisable.

No S***! Permanent Port-o-Potty Plants Self In Town

Port-o-potties are a necessary — if not particularly lovely — part of our lives.

We see (and use) them at construction sites. There are a few at Wakeman Fields. Every year for the fireworks, dozens are trucked in to Compo Beach.

But we seldom see a portable toilet just sitting, all by its lonesome, by the side of a regular road.

Yet that’s where this guy has been, for weeks — perhaps months.

A curious (nosy?) Westporter has seen it for a long time now. It’s on Nyala Farms Road — the little cut-through that connects Greens Farms Road with the Sherwood Island Connector, just north of the Bridgewater office complex.

That may give one clue to why it (the port-o-potty, not the hedge fund) is there.

“It’s on the stretch where limos sit — often with engines idling — in hot and cold weather,” says the alert “06880” reader who stopped by the john the other day.

To take a picture, mind you.

Not to use the facility.

(If anyone knows why this particular port-o-potty is there, click “Comments” below. Snide political remarks will be removed!)