Humboldt park gets eco-friendly restroom

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December 4, 2015 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — The latest amenity to Humboldt’s Neosho River Park — restrooms — again illustrates what a community can accomplish through the spirit of cooperation, Humboldt City Administrator Cole Herder said.
Herder spoke Thursday as crews installed a new restroom facility in the park on the western outskirts of Humboldt.
The 25-ton cement structure required the use of a large crane to be placed near the park entrance.
The project was the latest — and perhaps last — amenity added to the park, which for generations included little more than a circle drive near the river dam for fishermen.
A citizens committee began looking at ways back in 2008 to improve the area. They built a new platform and stairwell, making it easier to reach the river for fishermen or other outdoor enthusiasts.
A walking trail and flower garden came soon thereafter, followed by a limestone amphitheater for outdoor events. Finally, fresh flowers and limestone displays were erected along the park perimeter, making the area a dazzling attraction to draw visitors from miles around.
“You’d be surprised at how far some people have come to see this park,” said Humboldt City Councilwoman Vada Aikins, one of the driving forces behind the park’s improvements.
The restrooms should be open to the public as soon as the city completes a sidewalk area surrounding the structure.
After studying several options for a restroom facility, a team of local volunteers with the Humboldt PRIDE Committee and a Healthy Ecosystems Committee decided a prefabricated restroom was the most economical option.
The facility is waterless — waste goes into a pair of large, water-tight cement vaults, where it can later be removed by septic cleaning devices. The structure relies on “sweet smelling technology,” or a solar-powered ventilation system to mitigate foul odors, Herder explained.
Organizers agreed a waterless system was preferable because of the costs associated with running water and sewer lines, Herder said.
Because its walls and roof are colored concrete, not painted, the facility should retain its attractive appearance for years.
“It’s not flood-proof,” Herder said, “but since it’s concrete, all we have to do is clear it off. Let’s face it. This area does flood.”
In case of flood, crews will seal off the openings to prevent waste from contaminating the floodwater, Herder noted.

PERHAPS THE biggest feather in the $36,000 project’s cap is that it was done with only a small amount of city resources.
The committee received an $18,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, plus another $5,000 from Enbridge when that company brought a new oil pipeline through the Humboldt area. Another $5,000 donation, in the form of cement, came from locally owned Monarch Cement.
The city’s only contribution was in the form of site preparation, Herder said. And city crews will finish up the installation, by adding a sidewalk and fixing the grade surrounding the building.
“We want to get that part finished as quickly as we can so we can open it to the public,” Herder said.

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