Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boston's Other Big Dig

We all know that Boston is the city that likes to spend exhorbitant amounts of time and money making it look like it's doing something to improve the city. Excuse me, I meant, create beautiful and advanced urban design. And public toilets are no exception.

Reportedly, Boston Mayor Tom Menino was inspired by San Francisco's public toilets when he visited back in 1997. Twelve years ago. And he planned to install 10 public toilets in Boston. So far they have six. And there's been a bit of a snafu with the seventh.

Installation began on that one in March 2008, in Boston's North End (not the South End). It has yet to open.

First, it was installed a few inches above sidewalk level. No good for wheelchairs. And, oops, sewage lines not where they are supposed to be, according to the map. And now, let's dig it up and add another pump. You know, standard, run-of-the-mill New England craziness.

More entertaining commentary can be read on the Bostonist. But I guess $300,000 isn't a whole lot more than was paid for any of Boston's other public toilets. And none of it was paid for by the city itself, but by Wall Decaux, an advertising company that pays for the facilities in exchange for the right to sell advertisements. Good deal, no? And you thought it was just a public service.

I'm thinking maybe Boston should look into the company that installed these toilets in Japan.

But what I love is that Boston has a director of Street Furniture. And that that includes toilets. But I am still wondering, who is going to use these public facilities? I pass by them in San Francisco all the time. And if I have to pee, that's exactly what I do - I pass by them. Because I am not above buying a cup of coffee so that I can use the loo if it means I have a reasonable chance at privacy. That, and the kiosks tend to smell pretty nasty when they are open. I guess people do use them. I am just not one of those people.

Thanks to Agent J in DC, for the Boston info.

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