No doubt you’ve seen the grim condition of some of Kauai’s public bathrooms, particularly those on the North Shore.
They are often fouled with trash, graffiti, and even human waste. Toilets are often plugged and overflowing. Sinks, well, while they’re for washing up, you shouldn’t get too close.
There is often no toilet paper. And the county has been harshly criticized for those conditions.
Most of us would agree the state of some of the bathrooms is not something we would include in bragging rights about Kauai.
That said, there is only so much the county can do and, quite honestly, the county faces an uphill battle in this fight to keep restrooms in good shape, because, many times, as soon as the bathrooms are cleaned, they are trashed and vandalized.
As soon as the TP is restocked, it’s stolen or emptied. Trash can be picked up from the floor and more will be left on that same floor within the hour.
The county could dedicate more resources, more manpower and more money to keep the restrooms tidy and fresh. If it did, though, you can bet someone would question why in the world the county was squandering taxpayers’ money on restrooms used primarily by visitors.
But that is not the answer.
The answer is, people need to stop trashing parks and restrooms, which is a long-running problem pretty much in any town, city and state across the nation.
But, experience and common sense tells us, they won’t. Some people just have too much time on their hands and too little respect for public and private property. And places like restrooms and parks, often isolated and empty, are easy targets for those who enjoy destroying the good efforts of others.
For instance, in March the sky light of the renovated comfort station was damaged at Poipu Beach Park and the fixtures at Hanapepe Cliffside Park burned. Also in March, a newly improved playground at Poipu Beach Park was discovered vandalized by members of the public. Cables from the playground’s Boingo drum panel were cut and have since been repaired.
A lot of efforts went into improving those sites, and it’s not only county funds that are wasted. The Hanapepe Cliffside Park comfort station was planned and constructed by community volunteers with the support of the county.
Some are taking drastic measures to put a stop to this nonsense.
On Oahu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled on Thursday a three-month pilot project to lock up gates and bathrooms in response to more than 600 acts of vandalism to city parks in three years.
According to an Associated Press report, the increased security began this month. A private security company, American Guard Services Inc., locks the bathrooms and gates at night at city parks that have them, and park employees unlock them each morning.
Caldwell has ordered parks officials to install gates on park bathrooms that don’t have them, but that project is complicated because bathroom entrances are not uniform. Of the nearly 300 parks, more than 210 of them have bathrooms, parks and recreation spokesman Nathan Serota said.
“Some of them have (bathroom) gates and some of them do not,” Serota said.
The project announcement follows the installation of security cameras at Sandy Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park and Kaiaka Bay Beach Park on the North Shore. Caldwell said the cameras have proven successful in deterring vandalism.
Since the pilot project to lock up bathrooms and gates at 25 beach parks from Sandy Beach to Aiea began, there have been no acts of vandalism at night during closed hours, said Angela Watson, American Guard’s Hawaii branch manager.
The only incident, graffiti at a Sandy Beach bathroom, occurred during the day over Easter weekend, Watson said.
The city is paying American Guard Services $25,916 during the pilot period that runs through June.
We can’t imagine that anyone wants to see the County of Kauai forced to invest significant resources in trying to stop vandalism. No one wants to see the county putting up fences and gates, ramping up police patrols around parks, hiring security firms and putting in cameras to deter vandalism. We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that.
There is a simplier solution.
And that is, use Kauai’s public facilities as they are intended.
That is not asking, or expecting, too much.