2017-10-19 / Front Page

Fort Getty to get new restrooms, gatehouse

BY TIM RIEL

The town will hire an architect to redesign the Fort Getty gatehouse and renovate the park’s lower restroom. The parks department’s request was approved Monday night by the town council.

This phase of work expands on the overhaul of the pavilion, which was rebuilt in 2012 after the former structure collapsed under the weight of snow.

Enhancements to the area were made in 2016, including the installation of the pavilion bathrooms, split-rail fencing and a walled-in garbage bin. This summer, work continued with the addition of the boardwalk and grills.

“We really classed up that facility,” said Andy Wade, recreation director. “It’s booked every weekend. It’s quite popular.”

“We are getting great feedback from the community,” Town Administrator Andy Nota added. “But now we’re turning our attention to the remaining infrastructure that really needs help.”

According to Wade, the gatehouse is in dire need of replacement, both aesthetically and for its functionality.

“It’s the first thing we see when we drive into the park,” he said. “It sets an unfortunate tone of expectation.”

Although Wade wants to make the gatehouse more appealing and welcoming, there are concerns related to his staff, including low visibility from inside, which leads to security issues. Also, two workers are in that building on busy days.

“It gets kind of hectic,” Wade said. “That space is not conducive to have more than one staff.”

The lower bathroom near the base of the RV hill, Nota said, also has its problems.

“If there were a single complaint from the users, that would be at the top of the list,” he said. “The lower restroom is probably a facility that we could salvage.”

According to Wade, those bathrooms are the most frequented by park visitors, including increased use during car shows, weddings and farmers markets, when the pavilion bathrooms aren’t enough. Despite its popularity, the facility has poor ventilation and it is open 24 hours a day, which makes it a safe haven for rodents and insects.

“For a fairly reasonable number, we can go in there and fix it,” Wade said.

Those repairs include a new roof, electrical upgrades, new partitions and outdoor showers.

Ideally, Nota said renovations to the restrooms would be completed in time for next season.

Councilman Gene Mihaly suggested architect Ron Di- Mauro, the designer behind the restroom pavilion at Mackerel Cove.

“Maybe the genius that went into the toilets at the beach could be applied to the gatehouse,” he said.

Councilwoman Mary Meagher said Wade should think long-term when interviewing architects. Because more work will follow in the park, designers might be more flexible if they recognize this as part of a larger process.

Nota said the upcoming renovations to the park are decisions that will have to be community-driven, including the road network and the waterfront.

“Those could be $1 million-plus in a shake,” Nota said, “depending on the long-term vision of the community.”

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