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Hold it, or use the porta-potty

Even during some town events, the Urbanna Town Council prefers to keep the bathrooms locked at the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point, but has provided a porta-potty for use by visitors. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)
by Tom Chillemi

The Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point was built with government grants and town money, so it’s open to the public—but the restrooms are not.

Even during town events, the restroom doors stay locked.

Instead, the public is directed to use a green “porta-potty” that stands at the entrance to Urbanna’s million-dollar marina.

This restroom and porta-potty paradox does not sit well with Lewis King, a partner of the fishing charter boat “Alma Lee,” which is based in Deltaville but is operating from the town marina through December 31.

The town council recently gave a special deal to members of the Virginia Charter Boat Association, allowing them to dock boats during two months of rockfish season at the town marina for $100.

King would like to see the restrooms made available so his customers can change clothes. In a letter to marina manager Dianne Franck, King even offered to pay $25 for a “special restroom privilege.”

Franck’s recommendation to town council was to deny King’s request. Council agreed during the December 11 work session the restrooms should stay locked.

Opening the restrooms to one group would mean having to offer it to others—such as those aboard the Urbanna-based schooner “Serenity,” which gives sailing cruises, said Franck.

In his November 21 letter, King wrote that a town objective for making the marina available for rockfish charter boats is to “increase the exposure and patronage to a variety of other town businesses. For patrons to be denied the use of obviously available (restroom) facilities leaves a negative impression not only of charter operators, but also of the Town of Urbanna.”

Franck responded, “Our year-around slip holders have paid $2,400 for use of these (restroom) facilities and expect them to be clean and secure.” She added that slip holders “usually put their belongings on the bench outside the shower stall and this leaves their belongings assessable to anyone in the restroom.”

King noted that many customers travel long distances to enjoy fishing for rockfish on the Rappahannock River.

King’s son, boat captain Randy King, said last week, “What’s the first thing they have to do when they arrive? Use the restroom. When I point to the porta-potty, they look at me, like, are you serious? They’ve got to use a porta-potty at a nice marina.”

Councilman Don Richwine, who chairs the marina committee, said the town could get another porta-potty or move the existing one closer to the docks. He also noted the issue could be addressed next season.

Mayor Beatrice Taylor and council members Rich Donoff and Lee Chewning agreed the restrooms should stay locked. “If we don’t open them to everybody in town, why would we open them to these guys?” said Donoff.

Capt. King said his clients have to change clothes in the parking lot.

Taylor and Richwine said the fishermen could use the boat cabin to change clothes. Taylor indicated they would be changing from dirty fishing clothes after fishing.

Captain King said he’s willing to monitor the restrooms and clean them. “My clients would treat it as their own.”

Chewning told council, “I’m sorry. Fishermen are not that clean. We’ve got the cleanest restrooms that I’ve ever been in, almost, in a marina.”

As long as a porta-potty is accessible, Chewning said he was against opening the restrooms.

No one asked where people are supposed to wash their hands after using the porta-potty.

posted 12.23.2009

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