With county restrooms closed in Island Park, travelers are often asking business owners to use their restrooms.
Due to concerns over COVID-19 and Gov. Little’s stay at home order, the county’s public restrooms at Mack’s Inn have remained closed. Part of Little’s order was lifted last week and a second may be lifted again on Friday. If health officials give the OK, the state will fully open on June 12.
“The main complaint is that visitors are coming through and are asking to use the business bathrooms. I don’t know if they’re buying something or what have you. That seems to be the complaint — is that the people traveling though are asking to use the business bathrooms, and maybe not buying anything,” said Fremont County Wastewater Supervisor Rob Christman.
Christman and the county’s Public Works Director Brandon Harris met with the Fremont County Commissioners via a telephone conference on Monday to discuss the county bathrooms at Mack’s Inn
Harris told commissioners that the county doesn’t have the manpower to frequently clean the bathrooms.
“A cleaning company Rob contacted may be willing to do it,” Harris said.
Harris reported that during a recent state meeting, state workers told him that rest areas have been deemed as necessary
“The rest areas are open. They’re considered essential,” he said.
Island Park Mayor Mike Bogden recently met with Harris and says that while there are a few bathrooms scattered around town, the only public restrooms available on the highway are at Mack’s Inn.
“We’re working to improve bathroom facilities, but for now Mack’s Inn is the main public bathroom. Short of digging holes, that’s what we have,” he said. “We’re working on some stuff (restrooms), but that’s down the road a ways and won’t happen this year.”
Bogden said that with a shortened tourist season already expected this year, business owners are concerned that their only customers are those needing to use the restroom.
“Because of the coronavirus, the stores are limited to the number of people that come in,” he said. “It’s just hard for the businesses having 15 to 20 people in their store and half of them are using the bathroom. If customers aren’t paying customers, it makes it harder for business owners. We’re doing everything we can to mitigate. We’re concerned about the businesses,” he said.
Before the bathrooms are reopened, they first need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent any kind of a lawsuit and especially so with the COVID-19 scare, agreed commissioners. It was questioned how anyone could trace the coronavirus to a bathroom.
“Somebody’s bound to try it,” Commissioner Bill Baxter said.
Christman plans to get some pricing on cleaning and to ensure that any cleaning businesses the county hires is licensed and bonded.
“I think we’re going to have to clean the bathroom every two or three hours,” he said.
In previous years, the bathrooms were cleaned once a day.
Commissioner Lee Miller said he would meet with local health officials this week to get additional information on opening the restrooms.
Bogden says he’s confident the Mack’s Inn restrooms will reopen soon.
The commission plans to meet at 9 a.m., Monday, May 26, at the Fremont County Courthouse. For more information on the meeting call 208-624-7332.