Nov. 19 is National Toilet Day ... declared so by the United Nations to recognize the importance of public toilet facilities.
Do you know that the city of Keene has had toilet facilities in the Transportation Center downtown?
They are in a perfect location. They flush. But they are not available to the public!
For several years, the Monadnock Interfaith Project has been working with the city to try to get “our” downtown public toilets reopened. We had hoped to have a grand reopening celebration on National Toilet Day.
This request began as an urgent need for many who frequent The Community Kitchen expressed in listening sessions looking into what would make those in need more able to cope with life in our community. As a part of learning how the system works in a democracy, concerned people brought their requests to the attention of the City Council and together we discussed how to promote cleanliness and appropriate use. As a committee we investigated how other cities have successfully found creative ideas to solve problems.
Eventually the city manager told us they were developing a cooperative plan for a restaurant in the transportation center with the agreement to allow public use of its facilities. This was first to open midsummer ... then in September. Now it is November. Still, we stand outside with legs crossed.
Yes, there are dreams of an arts corridor with nice facilities for all, but it will be years before anything flushes there. In the meantime, we too often wake from our dreams with an urgent need and a long run from Railroad Square to the second floor of City Hall. Many of us are getting older and age increases urgency. Children gotta go!
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation backs model state legislation called Ally’s Law that requires retail establishments to let anyone with a relevant condition use employee bathrooms if they need to; now law in 15 states including Massachusetts. The rest of us just try to hide our embarrassment when things happen.
I am still wondering when Keene is going to catch up to other cities our size that provide clean and pleasant downtown public facilities for their people.
Rev. SANDRA J. WHIPPIE
233 Pako Ave.