It has come to our attention that there’s something those of us who work on Main Street take for granted, but summer visitors to our fair village struggle mightily to find.
And that’s public bathroom facilities.
Yes, it sounds silly, trite even. But if you’re the parent of a barely toilet trained toddler enjoying Sag Harbor for the day, it’s ample cause for alarm (and possibly much more). The stress level can shoot way up when facilities are not at hand but the need is, wrecking a perfectly lovely day for a family taking in the sites of the fourth happiest seaside town in America.
Who knows, maybe that’s why we weren’t “number one.”
But seriously, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce does a great and vital job in promoting this place as a destination worth traveling to, and our reputation precedes us. Thousands of visitors from around the world flock here to take in the summer views of Long Wharf, visit the great shops, eat at the restaurants, view the work at our galleries and museums.
But when it comes to finding public restroom facilities on Main Street?
By the way, it’s not like they don’t exist. They’re there all right — two of them in fact –
at 55 Main Street, (a.k.a. the Municipal Building). But they’re only open when the building is. Which means unless there’s an evening village board meeting during the week, don’t expect access after 5 p.m.
And weekends? That’s a total “no-go” zone.
Full disclosure — there are public facilities open 24 hours a day to be found down on Bay Street near Marine Park. But finding them can be a challenge for visitors who aren’t familiar with the village’s layout, especially late at night when there are fewer people out and about to ask. And if you’re up at the upper reaches of Main and Madison, Bay Street is a long way to hoof it in the event of an emergency, especially with a kid in tow.
It’s really not fair to expect merchants — whose job it isn’t to provide public facilities — to clean up the mess in the absence of what should be there. Public bathroom facilities, readily accessible, is a service welcoming small towns offer across the globe.
The summer season is now officially upon us and while the availability of public bathroom facilities on Main Street won’t bring world peace, they are important. And they go a long way toward letting visitors know their presence here is important to us as well.
To have the only two public bathrooms on Main Street locked for virtually the entire three-day holiday weekend does a huge disservice to this village’s visitors and merchants.
The village’s public bathrooms were recently renovated, and we understand some worry the facility might be vandalized if left open at night. But if those fears are simply defined by the fact public bathrooms get dirty, so be it. This is a service the village should provide in a conveniently located manner.
So we say perhaps the solution lies in compromise. Why can’t the village agree to keep the facilities open until, say, midnight each night during the summer season— at which point they are locked by the Sag Harbor Village Police Officer on duty.
It would go along way toward improving our public standing — and would allow Main Street merchants to breathe a sigh of relief the next time a toddler just can’t wait.
And by the way … they never can.