SANFORD — Some folks have vandalized and misused portable toilets at Number One Pond and at the Gowen Park/Blouin Field area to the extent the city removed them on Tuesday.

The portable toilets were installed for use as a convenience to the public a couple of years ago. Parks and Recreation director Marcel Blouin said he is appalled at what the portable toilet leasing company and city staff have found. He said he is baffled at the behavior of those who have vandalized and otherwise misused the portable toilets.

He said the leasing company and staff have found feces smeared on the walls, and household garbage stuffed in the storage areas of the portable toilets.

And that’s not all.

“We have found underwear of both male and female, condoms, needles, burned spoons and all sorts of other paraphernalia much too numerous to mention,” said Blouin in a letter to the editor that apears in today’s editorial pages.

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said Blouin appeared before the City Council’s property subcommittee Tuesday and outlined the problem. She pointed out that a portable toilet installed last year at Carpentier Park, on the city’s east side, was not replaced this season because of the same issue.

“It’s sad it is happening,” said Herlihy. “You know its a small percentage of the population.” She said the city is not required to provide comfort stations, but did so because “its a nice thing to do for people who use the parks.”

She said the portable toilet problem led to thoughts about work that needs to be done to many of the city’s parks. Some of the city parks are equipped with buildings that have toilet facilities that date to the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, Herlihy said. The buildings are believed to have been constructed by the Works Progress Administration and while some of the toilets are still operational ”“ like at Benton playground, and available for use with a key when ball games are played and for summer recreation program there, others are not.

The facility at Carpentier Park is in poor condition and hasn’t been able to be used for several years, she pointed out. Herlihy said perhaps some upgrades could be made so that facility could be used when the adjacent ball fields are active. She said Carpentier Park in particular sees heavy use by families with children during the day, but takes on a darker atmosphere at night.

“After the little kids go home, at night, there are problems with an older crowd,” she said, pointing out that parents have found needles and other paraphernalia on the park grounds in the mornings.

As to the portable toilets, Herlihy said they were cleaned regularly by staff from the company providing them, but were vandalized and misused quickly after they were cleaned, leading to numerous complaints from those who wanted to use them for their intended purpose.

Blouin expressed his thoughts in the letter.

“These facilities are put out for people to use when they are away from home and the need arises. They are used by people who picnic with their children and by runners and walkers. At night they are used by the most disgusting people who live in the area ”“ and not just for the purpose they are intended. Not even in the wild animal kingdom do you find this kind of abhorrent behavior,” he said.

Herlihy said the city will continue to provide portable comfort stations for special events, but not for general use on an ongoing basis.

So the potties are gone.

“I am not going to let this kind of behavior continue to become a source of aggravation and expense for the city,” Blouin concluded. “I’m sorry to those who used them appropriately and I hope that (the public) will understand our response to this behavior.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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