Need for public restrooms sparks protest

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Greater Cincinnati's Homeless Coalition created a big stink in Over-The-Rhine Tuesday.

They're accusing 3CDC of going back on promises to replace the public bathrooms that had been torn out as part of the massive renovation of Washington Park.

The Coalition says 3CDC promised publicly months ago that they'd put Port-O-Lets in. But, now claim the developer is refusing to help at all.

It's a high-traffic area used by lots of folks this time of the year. And now, people who live in the area are complaining about feces in the streets.

Maybe as parents, you once read to your children the book, Everyone Poops?

The Coalition staged a dramatic presentation, complete with seven toilets, hoping to drive home the point that everyone does it. So why not let the homeless and folks who live in that Over-The-Rhine neighborhood do it with some dignity?

No one was taking the Port-O-Let issue sitting down, until now.

"It would be nice to have another option," said Stephen Gentry, who is a volunteer with the Homeless Coalition. "But when nature calls, I must answer that call."

Gentry admitted, like many others, he's had to relieve himself outside.

"Given the option of having to go to the restroom or peeing on myself, I will not pee on myself," said Gentry.

Protestors held up signs. "The right to pee," read one sign. Other signs touted other intestinal rights, such as the book's title, Everyone Poops.

"Got toilet paper on a roll yeah," said Jerry Davis. "Just in case any accidents may occur."

He and several others grabbed a seat while a man wearing a red, white and blue bow-tie, gave a dramatic reading of the book.

"It's almost funny," said Josh Spring, Director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. "But the sad fact is, that it won't lead to funny results."

Spring said without a public bathroom, there is tension between those who have to go to the bathroom and those who get stuck walking through it, like resident Vanessa Sparks.

"And people just don't have any place to go," she lamented. She lives a few blocks away from the park and loves her neighborhood, except for one, new addition.

"We've seen an influx of poop in our neighborhood," she said.

It's a health issue Sparks said could be flushed out.

"It's such a minuscule portion of the $47 million that 3CDC has received to so-called better the neighborhood," she said, noting it would only cost a little under $3,000 to put-in the Port-O-Lets. "Taking the restrooms away just didn't help."

"Some people might argue on 3CDC's side that people are going to use the bathroom outside, where they want to, anyway, whether the Port-O-Lets there or not.

"Sure," Spring replied. "And the fact is, some people will use the bathroom outside and I don't know that we can stop it, but without a public restroom, everybody will use the bathroom outside."

Once the park is completed, it will have brand new restrooms.

3CDC Executive Vice President of Development and Operations Chad Munitz did return our call earlier Tuesday, but would only say 3CDC has no comment about the situation.

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