Proposed Waterfront Bathroom Gets Few Fans


The Fernandina Beach Historic District Council raved about the design of a proposed pavilion at the riverfront, but criticized plans to have a prefabricated concrete restroom structure as part of the waterfront park.

"These structures should relate to each other and look like they're part of the same project. They look like they're from whole different worlds," said HDC member James Pozzetta. "You've got something very nice (the pavilion) that we can all be proud of down at the waterfront and something (the restrooms) that could be anywhere."

The planned pavilion and restroom facility components of the waterfront park were brought before the HDC for conceptual design approval Thursday night.

Lisa Finkelstein, chair of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board (CRAAB), presented the designs of both structures to HDC members. A gable roof pavilion, similar in design to downtown's Welcome Center pavilion design, was praised by HDC members.

The restrooms, however, were heavily criticized.

The restroom design consisted of two pre-fabricated, concrete buildings, including simulated lap siding and a concrete roof placed on a concrete slab.

One HDC member called it a "bunker."

HDC member Tim Poynter, a former city commissioner, said the restroom reflected the city doing the project "on the cheap."

"When I was a commissioner, we put one of these concrete bathrooms at Seaside Park. I regret it," Poynter said. "It's as ugly as can be. This is a really important statement for this downtown. I think we're looking like we're trying to cheapen it out. I don't understand why we're going this route."

Former Mayor Arlene Filkoff, an HDC member, backed Poynter's assessment.

"Given where the spot we're talking about, making this as appealing to the eye as we can is really important," Filkoff said. "If there are options I hope we can look at them."

HDC Chair Mike Spino said city staff had brought forward a structure that was "indestructible and quick to do (install). I hear your concerns."

When asked about possible modifications to the precast concrete restrooms, Interim City Manager Jeremiah Glisson said the restrooms were "very much (designed) function over form. They're military, prison grade and meant to last."

HDC Vice Chair Froilan Esclusa said the problem was the building designs "don't speak to each other in my view."

To get rid of the "ugly factor," City Commissioner Chip Ross said surrounding the building with landscaping was key.

"But for taking care of parks and maintenance, that's why these buildings are done. That's the whole point of this," he said. "These are not cheap, about $110,000 each. We're trying to make it functional, but pretty it up with landscaping."

The HDC approved continuing review of the designs of both buildings at its July meeting.