Evanston is a City on the Go.
Okay, so much for the juvenile humor. But admit it. You probably chuckled when you saw the headline.
But this is actually a serious subject, one which combines not only biological necessity but also human dignity.
At a 4th Ward community meeting earlier this week, several residents angrily complained about being accosted by panhandlers, and also said that some apparently homeless individuals are urinating or defecating in public areas, usually near L stops.
City manager Luke Stowe told the meeting that he expects to budget for 10-12 portable toilets, or maybe even more, with locations to be figured out.
You may already see porta-potties around town, but those are put in by construction or road repair crews, and are removed once the work is completed. A few also are already located in city parks.
Betty Bogg, Director of Connections for the Homeless, told Evanston Now that the “lack of facilities” problem has been made worse by the closing of downtown businesses such as Panera Bread and Barnes & Noble, where people could use the bathroom with no questions asked.
Now, not only are there fewer places like that, but you’ll also frequently see signs saying “restrooms for customers only” in stores which do have facilities.
Of course, porta-potties come with their own potential problems, such as cost and maintenance.
Plus, while they provide an important service, they do not exactly add to the aesthetic appeal of wherever they are located.
Still, the city hall feeling seems to be that the need outweighs any negatives. So it looks like the issue will become “where” to put the portable toilets, rather than “whether” to put them anywhere at all.