VIRGINIA BEACH -- Seems no one is sad to see the porta potties gone at 2nd street at the Oceanfront. A new restroom, the only public facility for blocks, is a welcome relief for beach goers and those who use Grommet Island Park, a park and playground for everybody.
The 750-square foot facility with two toilets each for men and women plus a family restroom and storage area cost you $254,000. That's more than the median home price in Virginia Beach.
“I feel it serves a purpose, but again, I feel the price is way out of line,” Dr. Joseph Smith told us. Smith said he watched the facility being built out of cinder block and plywood, and there's nothing special about the fixtures.
Smith feels the restroom could have been built for tens of thousands of dollars less, especially when the city is asking residents to pay a $10 a month fee for garbage pick-up.
“I think they got the shaft," Smith added.
The city told us the new restroom was a project Councilman John Uhrin has been pushing for. Uhrin manages a hotel a stone’s throw from the new facility.
"There's been a long term need for one down here, I mean, since I was a kid," Uhrin said.
We asked Uhrin how a public restroom possibly could cost $254,000?
“That’s what it costs," Uhrin stated.
Yet for the money, Uhrin himself admitted the facility was nothing special. He also defended the cost by telling us we needed to consider the expense of running water and sewer lines to the facility and a special pump that was needed.
How much did all of that figure into the price of the restroom?
"I'm not in the construction business, so I would not be able to articulate all of the nuances of why something is a particular cost," Uhrin said.
Those numbers were not hard to find. We got them straight from the city. The cost of running water and sewer lines from Atlantic Avenue to the restroom and that special pump, weren’t included in the restroom's $254,000 price tag. They were extra, making the total cost to taxpayers for the project more like $275,000.
That’s not all. The city spends $46,000 dollars a year to keep an attendant at the facility and for supplies.
The new restroom at 2nd street actually came in about $60,000 under budget because of more competitive construction costs in the down economy. There' s another restroom on the drawing board for the oceanfront at a cost of $300,000 dollars.