Published Thursday, March 23, 2000
Tourist town readying for the ‘Grand Flush’
By Pam Mansell
You might think it’s no big deal to put up a small concrete building with four toilets and two sinks. A few months work at most, right?
Wrong. Just ask anyone in Volant. It’s been more than five years since borough officials started the process of getting public toilets in place. And they’re not done yet.
First came the problem of funding. Volant received a $20,000 Keystone Parks and Recreation grant early in the process, only to discover that it would cover only about half the cost.
What was originally envisioned as a small project turned huge when the borough learned that everything to do with the new public toilets, including the parking lot, had to meet federal standards for handicap-accessibility.
State Sen. Mary Jo White, R-21st District, helped find another $16,000 through the state’s Rural Economic and Community Development program. The borough added $1,000, and each merchant in town — about 40 in all — contributed $75 each.
In October, with funding in place, council solicited bids. Three construction companies made offers, and all were higher than Volant’s engineering firm had projected.
Borough Secretary Joyce Freeman said council contacted all three contractors, asking if they’d be willing to downgrade the project and “work with the borough” in cost-saving measures. One company, Van Dusen Construction, New Castle, said yes.
Trying to fit the project to the funds delayed the start of construction until late last year, Mrs. Freeman said. Then came bad weather, and work proceeded sporadically through the winter. Most of the work is finished, she said, but there’s still some painting and interior work. That is slow going because there’s no heat in the small building and there won’t be any heat until there’s money to pay for it.
Heating the building may be a few years away; for now, there’s still the matter of finishing the parking lot and having all work inspected before the facility can be used.
“We can’t open until the Department of Labor and Industry says we can,” Mrs. Freeman said.
She said the borough’s goal is to have the rest room open by May 6, in time for the annual “What’s New for Spring in Volant” festivities.
Sen. White will be invited to do the honors in the ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for the occasion — if the borough uses ribbon. “It may be a toilet paper cutting ceremony,” Mrs. Freeman said.
Naturally, an official ceremony needs an official name. This one is called “The Grand Flush.”
As for who will keep the toilet paper dispensers filled once the rest room opens, the Volant merchants have agreed to shoulder the long-term responsibility of maintenance and upkeep since they and their customers will benefit the most from public rest rooms.
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