About the Colony

What a relief to see improvements in Atascadero — now, speaking of relief ...

The city of Atascadero completed a project in the last half year that demonstrates it wants to have a future by creating an inviting atmosphere to its downtown. I’m talking about the new Centennial Plaza development that connects the Sunken Gardens/City Administration Building to the only half-developed Colony Square.

Last Sunday I was sitting on one of the newly installed iron benches that line the walkway from the gardens to the commercial development that includes Galaxy Theater. What a pleasant resting place city leaders have created.

I hope the city will continue to pay attention to those little things that enhance any downtown experience. One aspect of that is signage.

I’ve been on the city’s case for a number of years about the lack of enforcement on non-conforming signs, specifically those sandwich board signs. Now I’m complaining there are not enough signs.

In Colony Square there is a business that has never put up a sign, choosing instead to hang a cloth banner tied to a window awning support bracket. In the building next door, a medical office occupies a prominent downtown corner with what look like temporary garage sale-type signs stuck in the front lawn.

Some areas of the downtown resemble a permanent yard sale.

All those issues aside, I’m so thankful the city has put the finishing touches on its creekside improvements projects that include improved lighting, hard surface pathways and the pedestrian bridge.

Now to finish the job.

There is no public bathroom in the city’s premier downtown park. Every group that holds an event must contract for portable toilets to be set up around City Hall.

Whether it is Colony Days or Hot August Nights, sponsoring nonprofits have to put up the money to rent those plastic portable relief stations.

I know cities hate putting in public bathrooms. You have to almost make them bomb-proof to withstand the damage caused by, well, us humans — especially those who seem bent on destroying good intentions of city and civic leaders.

But there should be public bathrooms somewhere in this new downtown development. Yes, they would be used by the homeless who frequent the Sunken Gardens and nearby creek. This would be a good thing.

Best of all, we don’t need to spend a dime on plans. We just go up to Paso Robles and ask if we can borrow its plans for the public restrooms built in the city’s Downtown City Park, within about 100 feet from the historic Carnegie Library building, which is now the permanent home to the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society.

Our new restrooms could be built on the site of the former Main Street office or on the remaining vacant lot that borders the first-class improvements completed just last month.