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Proposed “Portland Loo” for Bicentennial Park downtown draws opposition

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on

The “Portal of Evolution” sculpture on the Truckee River downtown may have a new mate: A Portland Loo. The restroom proposed is the same kind of “Portland Loo” that was installed in 2020 at Brodhead Memorial Park.

The loos are designed for minimal maintenance.

“From August 2020 to September 2021, there have been 12,112 flushes at the [Brodhead Park] restroom, which is an average of 30 flushes per day,” a city of Reno staff report notes. “Through December 2021, from agencies that maintain the loo, there have been seven minor incidents that involved vandalism, including graffiti and issues with the door lock. All minor damages were quickly repaired.”

The One Truckee River Management Plan, which guides river programs and projects, proposes 10 Portland Loos along the river.

The new Portland Loo installed at Broadhead Memorial Park.
The Portland Loo installed at Brodhead Memorial Park.

The second one is set to be installed at John Champion Park. The third installation is proposed to be near the pedestrian bridge at Bicentennial Park. 

It’s already drawing opposition because of the proposed location. Downtown Rotary Club members wrote a letter of opposition to council members. The club has invested more than $150,000 and volunteer hours toward improving the park.

“When the sculpture garden concept was developed in 2015, it was done so to change the negative activity that was happening in the park. It was a place walkers and families avoided. For that reason, our club was asked to join a partnership with the City of Reno: to improve an area that was long-forgotten and overridden with drug addicts and homeless,” they wrote. 

“This caged-in public restroom, designed to be indestructible to vandals and a deterrent to drug activity, does not belong next to beautiful artwork and gardens. It is not a normal restroom,” they added. “Please, put the next Loo where it is needed now. There are many locations in downtown Reno where people who need these facilities congregate. Bicentennial Park is not one of them.”

One Truckee River is scheduled to present its plans for the restrooms and river restoration efforts at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

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