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“I think we’re about three years behind the curve on getting a downtown restroom,” said El Dorado City Councilmember Paul Choate, meeting with members of El Dorado’s Downtown Business Association last week. “Whether it be on wheels or not. … Build them and they will use them.”

The Downtown Business Association met last week and Choate, a member of the DBA, polled other business owners on their thoughts about public restroom facilities in the downtown Union Square District.

Choate previously presented the idea at a specially called meeting of the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission, held at the start of August. There, he told other commissioners he believed the city needed to step up efforts to develop its “Festival City” brand.

“They will spend money in the stores that are anywhere close to them,” he said.

DBA members were in favor of permanent restroom facilities, saying opening up their restrooms during holidays and festivals puts a strain on them.

“I’ll provide some the toilet paper,” said Rexayn Tribble, DBA president and owner of All About Flowers. “I spend a lot of money on toilet paper.”

Choate said he is investigating several downtown locations for permanent restroom facilities, but that mobile restroom units, nicer than porta-potties, are also an option.

“I’ve had some really good input,” he said. “When it comes up, I may need support.”

Choate addressed downtown restrooms again at a second specially called A&P Commission meeting on Aug. 13. He said that along with the DBA’s feedback, others in the community have also backed his idea for downtown restrooms.

He said that for $100,000, the city could get at least two restroom facilities, including one that is ADA-accessible. However, he said he has more homework to do before presenting a proposal, whether to the A&P Commission or another city body.

“We should look into maybe patrolling more at night, downtown, especially with the new law,” said commissioner Jesse Prado, a downtown business owner himself, referring to the recently created entertainment district, which allows the open carrying and consumption of alcohol, in downtown El Dorado.

“Maybe some of y’all or most of y’all don’t spend time at night downtown, but there are things going on down there that I think need to be addressed,” Prado went on.

Public restrooms and a police substation were part of the initial design concept for the Murphy Arts District. Choate did not press the issue further at the A&P meeting.

The El Dorado City Council will meet this evening at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. Council member Judy Ward, also an A&P commissioner, is expected to speak about issues raised in recent A&P Commission meetings.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

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