Broken Bow City Council Discusses Public Bathroom In The Square: Need Or Want?

BROKEN BOW— Is there a need or is there a want? That was the question posed by Broken Bow City Councilman Jacob Holcomb on Tuesday, May 14 at the Broken Bow City Council Meeting concerning building a public restroom at the City Square. The estimated $15,000 project was scheduled on the agenda as a discussion item as the project has begun the baby steps on the possibility of being added to the square. (Click here to view the May 9 Park Board story.)

“How do you distinguish between a need and a want,” asked Holcomb. “I think that it is really important that we apply that mindset to this current environment financially.”

Holcomb continued saying that, “$15,000, that’s a drop in the bucket to a multi-million dollar budget, but that mindset of distinguishing between needs and wants is very important.”

Holcomb stated that while he was happy with the research done by the park board and others concerning the bathroom, he urged caution going forward. It was referenced that surveys had been conducted in a very similar way for the Trail Project and that it was overwhelmingly positive at first. It was found out later that the community was not in favor of the project, but the opposition came after the decision to go forward had already been made by the council.

The on-line survey for the public bathroom has shown strong support of the project with over 300 responses, but the overwhelming age range was under 45 years. Those in favor of the bathroom have stated that port-o-potties are an eye sore and that a bathroom would be a nice addition to a square that has seen many improvements over the years. Other factors for adding the bathroom that was stated was safety, especially for kids that cross the street to use the bathrooms in neighboring businesses.

Numerous park board members were in attendance and are planning on conducting public hearings and more surveys in the future. Those who would like to voice their opposition or support of the project are encouraged to attend the park board meetings.

Another subject that was discussed at length was a new ordinance concerning mobile food vendors. A few at the meeting did speak against the new ordinance by stating that the yearlong application fee was too low at $125. Other concerns focused around the mobile food vendors taking business away from local restaurants and if they were paying taxes to Broken Bow.

City Clerk Stephanie Wright as well as City Attorney Jason White assured that sales taxes were being collected from the vendors and that each vendor has to be approved through multiple agencies to be able to sell food.

Diane Harms employee of the Broken Bow City Café said, “They kill our business. We have so many place to eat in this town. They take up parking and come at the middle of lunch. We have older people they can’t find anywhere to park on the square.”

Wright told the public and the council that the current ordinance is a combination of different mobile food vendor ordinances from Kearney, St. Paul, and numerous others towns to create the current ordinance for Broken Bow.

While the ordinance went through the first reading, there will most likely be corrections and changes in the future. Questions were also brought forward if food vendors would need to apply for a yearlong permit even if that vendor would only be in the area for a special event. Discussions concerning the ordinance will continue at the next City Council meeting.

In other business, the board approved the conditional use permit for Black Hills Energy to move to 79777 Highway 2 which is the location of the lot split next to Full Circle Irrigation. Payments were approved to JEO Consulting Group in the amount of $1,577 for work on the Flood Risk Reduction as well as payments to Waterpark Specialties through KENO funds in the amount of $16,611 for painting the pool slide. The final payment approval was for $12,650 for eCitation equipment for the Broken Bow Police Department.

The next Broken Bow City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 28 at 6 PM at the Broken Bow Public Library.