Burlington plans for downtown public bathrooms

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Holly Treadwell sees a lot of folks walking in and out of The Blend & Co. in Burlington, but not everyone comes in just for the coffee.

"The only time I think it's an inconvenience is when I have customers waiting to use the restrooms, and large events, it can get a little confusing, who's a customer and who's not," Treadwell said.

Some businesses downtown even have signs that their restrooms aren't for public use and for customers only. Burlington doesn't have centralized public bathrooms, but that could change.

The city received a $50,000 grant from the state for economic development. The money must be used within a year for a project.

Burlington Director of Economic Development Peter Bishop believes a public bathroom fits those requirements and is a practical need for downtown.

"Nobody really thinks of the restroom experience as needing to be incredibly positive, but every little bit is part of that impression that you leave on the visitor or the resident," Bishop said.

The lot right behind the downtown depot is the location the city has in mind. It's in between two public parking lots and the hub for Link Transit.

As a growing city, folks believe it's a good idea for visitors.

"If they're gonna walk around and enjoy the town, they need that," said Priscilla Starling, who's lived in the area for more than 50 years.

But others have hesitations and concerns the public space would be a magnet for bad activity when the sun goes down.

"Especially at nighttime, hanging out in the restroom, drugs and prostitution and that kind of thing," longtime resident Holt Skinner said.

City council will vote on whether to approve the grant money's use Tuesday night.

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