A holiday visit to Flat Rock Park wasn’t what a Columbus woman expected after she was forced to use a restroom where vandals had wrecked the toilets.
“My husband and I walked through on Thanksgiving morning and had to stop to use the restrooms above the playground area,” the visitor said in an e-mail to the newspaper. “The toilets in the women’s bathroom had both been smashed and broken. Still, people desperate to go, used them anyway. The men’s wasn’t much better. While the toilet was in one piece, it either wasn’t flushed or couldn’t be.”
Columbus Parks and Recreation director Holli Browder had crews working at the 6106 Warm Springs Road site on Wednesday but had to lock the restrooms on Thursday while repairs were completed by Public Works and Parks and Recreation.
The visitor’s description of the smashed toilets is correct. I don’t think there’s anyone walking around physically capable of causing that type of damage to restroom equipment. It appears some type of object was used by vandals to destroy the sides of the toilets.
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Known for it cool, flowing streams over the flat rocks, the popular park gets plenty of visitors at its walking trails, playground, picnic area, grills and covered eating areas.
The men’s and women’s restrooms are located near Friendship Hall. Browder wouldn’t describe the damage as vandalism, though crews had to remove and replaced the toilets with new ones. To work properly, the lines to the toilets also had to be cleared after someone clogged them. The restrooms were up and running with new equipment by the weekend.
“The problem continues to be that people go in and not necessarily vandalize but damage the property,” she said.
Browder said the damage happens pretty frequently and is a lot more prevalent than people believe. “It’s not a regular occurrence, but it continually is apt to happen in some of the bigger areas where there is more traffic and people use them,” she said. “It does happen a lot more frequently than we would like, because it does prohibit us from getting them cleaned, and then there is the expense of having to replace the area that gets vandalized.”
To reduce the possibility of damage to facilities, Browder said patrols have been alerted to watch the locations at city parks. If there is a concern with a facility at any park, Browder said residents are encouraged to give the department a call. “We appreciate the extra eyes and ears to know when something is not the way we want it to be,” she said.
Looking back, the visitor said she’s not sure what she would have done if she were there with children that day. “I was glad I didn’t have any desperate young children that needed to use the restroom,” she said. “ I’m not sure what I would have done.”
If you’ve seen something that needs attention, give me a call.