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Downtown toilets will be vandal-proof

Two loos destined for placement downtown are said to be indestructible
Two loos will be installed at the Medford bus station this fall. [Courtesy photo]

Two indestructible Portland-style loos will offer relief this fall to weary travelers and homeless people at the Medford bus station on Front Street.

“It would probably take a significant stick of dynamite to blow it up,” said Julie Brown, general manager of Rogue Valley Transportation District.

Medford Urban Renewal Agency Thursday unanimously approved an agreement with RVTD, which will install the loos.

MURA is working with city officials to spend up to $100,000 to route utility hookups and other site preparation for the loos on MURA property.

A bicycle parking area at the corner of Front and Ninth streets will be removed to make room for the new bathrooms.

RVTD had already purchased one of the $120,000 loos and has ordered a second one, which has seen an inflationary bump to $130,000. The installation of at least one of the loos is expected to be completed by October.

Last year, RVTD received approval from the city to install one loo, but it realized one wasn’t enough, so the plans were changed to bring in two to handle the expected volume.

The bus station does have a bathroom on the back side of the Greyhound building, but it’s locked during the night and has been subject to vandalism over the years. RVTD cleans it four times a day.

“The vandalism that’s been going on is ridiculous,” Brown said. “The doors have been kicked in, and they cost $5,000 apiece.”

She said all sorts of things are flushed down the toilet, clogged with cellphones and other items.

The existing bathrooms aren’t available round-the-clock, so RVTD has to contend with another nuisance.

“They go right in the bushes or right on the facility,” Brown said. “They’ll use the property as a bathroom.”

Bathrooms in the downtown are a necessity, Brown said. On a Saturday morning, homeless residents and others are lined up waiting for the bathrooms to open.

“People in the community know where they can use the bathrooms,” she said.

Greyhound buses roll into town in the middle of the night, and travelers can’t find a place to do their business.

Portable potties are out of the question because they are easily vandalized or destroyed by fire. The plastic bathrooms also can be tipped over.

The new stainless steel loos were developed in Portland to address the need for a toilet that is difficult to vandalize.

They are designed to help police identify criminal behavior. Open grates at the top and bottom of the loo allow you to see how many people are inside and provide constant air flow.

The interior of the loo is spartan, not particularly comfortable and very drafty. The wall panels are graffiti proof, and the entire loo can be hosed down for easy cleaning. The bathroom is wheelchair accessible, and a curved steel door is located on the front side.

Clay Bearnson, a MURA board member and city councilor, said the loo should be helpful to downtown business owners such as himself.

“I’m really excited about this,” he said.

Tim D’Alessandro, a MURA board member and councilor as well as an RVTD employee, said the loo will be a benefit to downtown Medford and to RVTD.

“I think it’s a great partnership,” he said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.