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Lorena resident urges city to reopen public park bathrooms

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 19:27:33-05

LORENA, Texas — Locked bathrooms were a common sight at the beginning of the pandemic as many were worried that COVID-19 would possibly spread on surfaces.

Now two years into the pandemic, the city of Lorena has yet to reopen facilities at McBrayer Park.

Lorena resident James Jensen tells 25 News he thinks it's time to reopen. He called the closure unsanitary and says the city is failing to stop other diseases from spreading due to hand washing not being available.

"I'm less comfortable coming to this park because the restroom is closed," Jensen said. "These are surfaces that everyone is touching. People still use the park, use all the tables, use the toys. Especially the people playing basketball, they touch each other, touch the ball. How are you going to clean up after that?"

Jensen's concerns go past not being able to wash your hands. He said men who are unable to use the toilet will find other places in the park to go, which he's seen numerous times when visiting with his young daughter.

"The only option if you have to go is outdoors," said Jensen. "With a six-year-old little girl and other people bringing their children here as well, it raises the risk of seeing something they shouldn't be seeing."

Jensen has met with several city leaders over the last few months, but they say the decision to close stays put for now.

"We want all people to be cautious and feel free to use the park, but we just don't feel that we are staffed properly to keep them cleaned on a regular interval," City Manager Kevin Neal told 25 News.

With a new wave of COVID spreading through McLennan County, the health department shows a weekly average of 918 new cases.

Neal said the restroom would need to be cleaned every few hours to prevent spread, but opening them would cause more harm than good.

"To put a citizen or employee at risk because we don't have the staff to clean as they need to be, it would just hinder us more than help," Neal said.

Neal said he has yet to see police reports of people relieving themselves in public and encourages anyone who sees that to report it.