Majority for proposed public toilet

Public toilets are urgently needed at Pisa Moorings, but one of the possible side effects - an increase in freedom camping - is less welcome, submitters say.

The Clutha Management Committee will today consider a proposal for a single unisex toilet to be placed in Dustin Park, near the playground and road to the boat ramp.

Thirty-six submissions have been received - 26 supporting, two giving conditional support, seven opposed and one neutral.

Central Otago District Council parks and recreation manager Mathew Begg said $100,000 had been set aside in the estimates for the project. Submissions from the local community plan group initially highlighted the need for such a facility.

The area is administered by the council, which has a management agreement over the park and playground, but Land Information New Zealand is the statutory land manager. Mr Begg said the management agreement would have to be changed to install a toilet.

''Should the proposal proceed, it would be considered that no camping would be allowed in the immediate vicinity of the park/toilet area.''

There were no other public toilets nearby and the proposed site was ''well away'' from houses, he said.

The facility could be built before the end of the financial year. Annual costs would include about $2000 for cleaning, $2000 for maintenance and up to $1000 for power.

Supporters said the toilet should be constructed promptly, as the area was popular, and rubbish bins and a drinking fountain could also be installed.

''A modern toilet facility at this location is now a must-have as Dustin Park has become a very popular destination for family picnics, a safe swimming area and a popular launch location for boaties,'' submitter Ken McGraw, of Pisa, said.

''... inappropriate use of vegetation, behind boats, etc in the Dustin Park area as default toilets may become a health matter and far greater issue for local residents, and parents with children using Dustin Park, than the minor visual presence of a modern, well-constructed and appropriately landscaped toilet,'' he said.

Many submitters aired concerns that siting a public toilet in the area would encourage more freedom camping and asked how a camping ban would be policed. Janet Shaw, of Pisa, questioned the need for the facility. She said the playground was mostly used by local residents, who could use their own toilet facilities. The proposed location was too close to houses. A toilet would be visually and environmentally unacceptable, might have a negative impact on property values in the area, encourage freedom camping and attract litter ''and anti-social behaviour'', she said.

'' . . . the cost of building and maintaining a toilet at Dustin Park would be a gross misuse of ratepayer funds as it would only benefit a very small number of people,'' she said.

Several people said the proposed site for the toilet was too close to the boat ramp road.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz