Councilor looks to install public ‘loo’ restroom in downtown Albuquerque

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A public bathroom in downtown Albuquerque might soon become a reality.

Councilor Isaac Benton says he’s now working with city staff to find a place for a unique outdoor, single stall public bathroom known as a “Portland Loo.”

The councilor bought the so-called “Loo” at auction last summer for $20,000, a fifth of the price for a new one. Money to pay for it came from Benton’s “set-aside” fund for district specific projects.

“Seems like it might be an answer,” said Benton, speaking of the “Loo.”

Benton is planning to meet with city official and downtown stakeholders Thursday to talk about the idea of putting it downtown and where it will go.

“Clearly public restrooms has always been a question and always an issue,” said Benton.

A lot of people know the struggle to find a place to go to the bathroom downtown Albuquerque. While a few public buildings like City Hall, the Public Library and the Alvarado Transportation Center have public restrooms, most of those facilities close around 5 p.m.

“We want to make (people) comfortable and we don’t want to make burden on businesses who they may not be patronizing,” said Benton.

Benton thinks the “Loo” can work for ABQ. The structure is built to withstand abuse with metal fixtures. It also has large metal slat for open ventilation and security, so that police can monitor from the outside if something is wrong.

The question now is where to put it. Benton acquired the toilet from the city of San Diego at auction. That city uninstalled and sold the toilet after it installed it in problematic area.

“We want to talk to everybody and try to choose the best possible spot,” said Benton.

The councilor says a few potential spaces he’s thought about could be near the Public Library on Fifth and Copper, or the Alvarado bus station at First and Central.

Mostly, Benton says it needs to be in the open.

“If its behind some corner somewhere, then its just asking for trouble,” said Benton.

Some people agree the bathroom needs to be in the open.

“Somewhere people are on a regular basis, so that there’s not an added sense of privacy,” said Corey Warner of Albuquerque.

Some think it should go on Central Avenue.

“I would say half way between here (6th Street) and the train tracks probably,” said Kyle Whitehead of Albuquerque.

There’s no timeline yet on when the toilet will be installed, but Benton says he hopes it’s “soon.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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