Collaborative effort underway to solve smelly public restroom issue on Berryville Square
BERRYVILLE -- A collaborative effort is underway to revitalize and maintain the public restrooms on the Berryville Public Square.
The restrooms have proved to be a thorny thicket because the building benefits Berryville merchants but is owned by the county.
After falling into disrepair, the goal is to remodel, maintain and monitor its use by engaging the efforts of various entities.
Those include the county, city, chamber of commerce, the merchants association, sheriff's office, the historical society -- and one individual, Shawn Turner, who offered his expertise to get the job done.
Susan Krotz, president of the Berryville Downtown Merchants Association, said the revitalization effort came about after she and County Judge Richard Williams happened to talk at a recent Lions Club meeting and he arranged to attend the next merchants meeting.
At that meeting, Krotz said Williams "committed his part" to the restroom project.
That commitment got the ball rolling and a plan was formulated the following week when Krotz and Williams met with Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney and Chamber Director Ginger Oaks.
Williams confirmed that the county will be paying for the restoration of the restrooms and for ongoing supplies.
McKinney promised to pay utilities and provide a city employee to transport and supervise state 309 trusty prisoners who will be cleaning the restrooms on a regular basis.
Sheriff Bob Grudek said he okayed the use of his state trustys as a cleaning crew, just so long as they are transported and supervised as required.
Gordon Hale, president of the Carroll County Historical Society, agreed to have society staff, who are located next door, lock and unlock the restrooms during their regular business hours.
Krotz said downtown merchants will be responsible for opening and closing the restrooms on Saturdays, and during evening and weekend events sponsored by the merchants association.
And, Krotz added, the chamber of commerce, represented by Oaks, promised to open and close the restrooms on the evenings and weekends the chamber sponsors downtown events.
"This is really a collaborative effort," she said, "and Shawn Turner is volunteering his time and getting donations."
Turner said he is donating a portion of his time to get the job done.
"I was the only one to step up," he said. "I saw something in the newspaper about it, and thought 'it's a gol darn shame.' I told the judge I would help."
Turner, who owns and operates Turner Painting and Furniture Restoration, said he's overseeing the restoration project, which will involve himself, his helper, plus plaster man Ron Stimson and carpenter Jimmy Smith.
"It's a mess," he said of the lobby, vestibule and restrooms that occupy the lower level of the county-owned building, which also houses an upstairs community room where pancake breakfasts and chili suppers are hosted by local organizations.
"It's a mess, but you know what someone said to me? For a county with a $6 million jail, we ought to have nice restrooms."
Turner said one of the first things that must be done is to seal the outside concrete cracks where water has infiltrated into the building creating a mold and mildew problem.
Plaster man Ron Stimson will be removing crumbling plaster indoors to make way for new, he said, and carpenter Jimmy Smith will be installing new outside doors and interior windows.
Turner, as paint man, will put his skills to work painting the interior and exterior of the building once the inside and outside are power-washed and prepped.
All the plumbing fixtures in the restrooms will remain, he said, but will be thoroughly cleaned with bleach. And, the concrete restroom floors will be treated with muriatic acid before they get a fresh coat of paint.
Upper windows in the vestibule will be cleaned, broken panes replaced, and the rusting metal framework will receive a rust treatment and fresh paint, he said.
The exterior of the building will have a fresh coat of paint, and new doors, similar to the existing doors, Turner said, and the door hardware will be re-used.
The exterior of the building sports a plaque recognizing it as home to the regional library when Oden Fancher was county judge in 1950.
A second sign, barely readable, harkens back to the days when the Berryville Professional Womens club met there. It will be restored by Abbott Signs, Turner said, using a photograph provided by Shelia Robinette.
All the paint for the project is being donated by Meeks, he said, a generous contribution made possible by Meeks assistant manager Patricia Foster.
The entire project is "quite a bit of work," Turner noted, saying it should be done by the end of the month.
In the meantime, it will be available for use on a limited basis to Farmers Market vendors and customers, and perhaps to others, he said.
As for his part in the project, Turner explained, "Someone had to take charge. I can't donate all my time but I am donating 25 to 30 percent of my labor and overseeing the project. I love staying busy. The busier I am, the happier I am.
"When it's done, it will look a while lot better and I hope people will be proud and see to it that others don't misuse it."
Judge Williams said he doesn't have a dollar figure yet, but believes the renovation cost will be minimal because of the Meeks paint donation and because of Turner's generous labor and supervision contribution.