Clark County to begin reopening park restrooms

The county will focus on Lewisville Park, Frenchman’s Bar, and Vancouver Lake this Memorial Weekend

CLARK COUNTY — With nice weather in the forecast and a holiday weekend, the Clark County Board of Public Health on Friday recommended that restrooms at county parks be reopened.

“I actually think that would be a better option for folks,” said Councilor Julie Olson who brought up the idea during a special meeting of the board to vote on an application to move Clark County to Phase 2 of reopening.

This restroom at Lewisville Park has been closed since mid-March. The county plans to reopen them this weekend. Photo by Chris Brown
This restroom at Lewisville Park has been closed since mid-March. The county plans to reopen them this weekend. Photo by Chris Brown

Clark County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Alan Melnick, said he was on board with the idea, so long as restrooms could be cleaned regularly.

“I still recommend that the playgrounds remain closed off because there is still some evidence around surfaces,” Melnick added. “Although, as councilor Olson correctly points out, that’s not the main mode of transmission.”

Olson was referring to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which noted that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, does not appear to be as highly transmissible through surface contamination as previously thought.

Galina Burley, the county’s parks and land manager, said they would need to work with vendors who supply portable restrooms at some of the parks, and might need to have staff go into overtime to make sure brick and mortar restrooms are cleaned and stocked daily during the holiday weekend.

The county had already arranged to bring some portable restrooms to Frenchman’s Bar park in anticipation of crowds there over the weekend, but will work to provide hand sanitizing stations or at least hand sanitizer there.

“The only other concern that could happen is people will go to the parks and stay longer,” noted Kathleen Otto, interim county manager. “I think that was the primary reason for the restrooms being closed initially was to encourage people to enjoy the parks but not necessarily stay all day.”

“While we’d like them to stay home, they’re not likely to stay home,” Olson said. “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend and our parks are open.”

County Chair Eileen Quiring agreed. 

“This is the fact of life. They’re going to be there anyway,” she said. “So the sooner that we can have the restrooms prepared and ready, and follow the cleaning protocols, the better.”

“I think we’ll start focusing on those parks that are visited frequently,” said Burley, naming Lewisville Park, Frenchman’s Bar, and Vancouver Lake. “Why don’t we start there and see how much we can get through, and then we’ll regroup and do more next week?”

Burley said they would also have signage in several languages, advising people to make sure to wash their hands, and bring their own hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes if possible.