It’s go time for renovation of Paso park’s restrooms

Paso Robles is gearing up to fix its aging Downtown City Park bathrooms in a half-million-dollar project spurred by a disabled access lawsuit.

The first signs of construction — expected to end next summer — appeared last week as fencing went up around the existing restrooms and those facilities closed.

The neighboring playground will remain open except for use of the balance beam, which is to be relocated at a later date, according to a city email by project manager Freda Berman.

Walkways throughout the park will remain open, and portable toilets and a hand-washing station will be delivered to the park in the interim.

The city is required to build new restrooms after being sued by two North County residents in 2010 for failing to meet access standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Templeton resident Russell Peterson and Paso Robles resident Suzanne Smiley filed the suit after they found they couldn’t use various sidewalks or areas at City Park. The pair entered into a formal agreement under which the city is to complete specific improvements by several deadlines.

In all, the settlement requires the city to do $2.2 million worth of street, restroom and parking improvements to make the city more accessible for the disabled, in addition to other agreements. The improvements are funded by the city.

A new phase of fixes on the west side of town also took place this summer and included new curb slopes and expanded portions of sidewalk where none were previously.

The contractor on the $560,000 restroom project is Santa Maria-based Spiess Construction Co. Inc.

The new facility will include separate men’s and women’s toilets along with a family restroom, sink area and drinking fountains.