CB3 Endorses New Public Bathrooms at ‘Stanton Storehouse’
What’s another two years when the community already waited three decades?
Two years. That’s the estimated timeline for the Stanton Storehouse to finally return to the community, albeit partially. Community Board 3 last night approved the Parks Department proposal to convert part of the building into a public comfort station (which is a euphemism for bathroom).
Thanks to an allocation of $1 million in city funding sponsored by Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the city can now deliver. The project will reconfigure the west wing of the structure.
Plans call for the conversion of the window arches into entrances, installation of an ADA ramp, and additional LED security lighting (warm tones) around the premises. Design takes cues from the current administration facility down at Hester Street.
Both the boys and girls rooms will only boast two fixtures apiece, the latter with stalls and the former with one stall and one urinal. The windows are not operable (i.e. don’t open), and there is a ventilation system planned for the rooftop. The limited facilities and lack of open space inside are altogether intentional, so as to deter drug dealing and area homeless from taking up residence.
Members of the Parks subcommittee of CB3 expressed relief and appreciation that the plan was finally happening. Yet, there were some concerns. Several members voiced concerns about demonizing the homeless population that lives in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and to not “plan [new projects] based on what the homeless will do, but for the community.”
There was also hope that this conversion project was but the beginning of an eventual full return of the premises to the Lower East Side community.
With approval resolution in hand from CB3, the next step is an appearance before the Public Design Commission next month (April 24). There are still four to five months of planning, nine month procurement period, and twelve-month construction to look forward to.
The Stanton Storehouse – once upon a time a youth center – was seized by the government around thirty-some-odd years ago. Its current function remains Parks Department storage for all Manhattan Parks, and de-facto parking lot for city vehicles. Since 1994, though, the eponymous Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition has fought to reactivate this structure for local accessibility. Four years later – in 1998 – the city promised to return the brick box to the community, but nothing happened until now.