$1 million for a public restroom? - FOX 13 News

$1 million for a public restroom?

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SARASOTA (FOX 13) -

Would you believe a million dollars for a restroom? It's not for a fancy Florida mansion, but for the beach. That's what's being proposed for Lido beach in Sarasota, but now county commissioners are balking at the price tag.

In Venice, there's already a similar structure. This newer building is about the size of an average Sarasota County home, but with all the latest green technology in building materials and built, so it could withstand hurricanes.

But for more than a million dollars? Commissioner Nora Patterson said wait a minute.

At sunset, its gold lights glow red, and a proposed 1.3 million dollar restroom for Lido beach, like the one on Caspersen Beach in Venice, has some county leaders seeing red.

"The price of this one took me back," said Patterson.  

So did the size – roughly 1,700 square feet of interior space, which would be covered by a canopy of steel and concrete.

"The roof is like 8-inch concrete slab; it's architect-designed, so it's an innovative design," she said.

The price of construction alone is more than $800,000 which comes out to about $500 a square foot.

"That's not what I'm used to seeing in numbers in public buildings," said Patterson.

But on beaches, this close to the coast, you have to build up.  And it also has to be able to withstand hurricanes. FEMA requires it have handicapped accessible ramps, and when you add in some of the latest green technology, the price can skyrocket.

"There's a cistern, so that the toilets will flush from recycled rain water, all of those are good things," said Patterson.

Rather than just flat out reject the plan at their meeting Tuesday night, commissioners decided to look at ways to possibly trim the price down.

Mary Beck is here with engineer John Maclatchy from Vancouver, British Columbia. She said that sounds a bit expensive.

"The bathroom looks pretty ordinary," said Maclatchy.  "But the steelworks here is quite impressive."

He worked for Canada's version of our EPA and knows how expensive green building materials can be.

"Well, certainly, being hurricane proof is going to add a lot of cost here," said Maclatchy.

"It does sound a little bit high for a restroom on a beach," said Bonnie Riggle, who added nothing she saw inside the women's restroom seemed to warrant a million bucks.

"At Lido, it probably has a higher traffic area, and it needs to be nice," said her husband Ted Riggle. "I'm not sure it needs to be a million dollars' worth of nice."

Commissioners should have a better idea of what could be cut to bring the price of the restroom down in about 30 days. A public restroom will be built on Lido Beach, but at what price, has yet to be flushed out.

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