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Carbondale locking up its restrooms

Valley Journal Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” The town of Carbondale has begun locking some of its park restrooms at night, from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The reason is vandalism.

“Last year was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Public Works Director Larry Ballenger. “We just had so much malicious vandalism.”

City officials could not come up with a better solution, Ballenger said, so they decided to lock up the restrooms at night to prevent further damage.



One of the worst instances happened at the bathrooms next to the Mt. Sopris Historical Society Museum, across from Glassier Park on Weant Boulevard, Ballenger said. Someone brought in some big rocks and used them to smash all the porcelain fixtures.

In 2006, Ballenger said, someone entered the bathrooms at Sopris Park and tore down all the stall partitions and destroyed all the toilet paper holders.



Several times, Ballenger continued, vandals have brought quantities of mud inside the restrooms and slung the muck all over the walls and fixtures.

“Just senseless, malicious stuff,” Ballenger said. It has been surprisingly vicious for a town as small as Carbondale, he added.

The vandalism is the reason for the replacement of fixtures in the Sopris Park bathrooms with industrial-looking, stainless steel urinals, toilets and sinks. The vandalism continued right through last fall, until just before the restrooms were closed for the winter in November.

Town officials have made efforts in the past to stop the vandalism, with police instructed to pay special attention to the parks. But the police can’t be everywhere at once, Ballenger said.

Last year, the town offered a reward of $2,000 for information on the bathroom vandals throughout the year, but no one responded.

“Our hands are kind of tied,” Ballenger said. “We just never caught anyone.”

Town staff members decided that locking the restrooms overnight would be the best solution, but it was clear that having police visit each park and lock the restrooms every night at 10 wasn’t a practical solution, Ballenger said.

Ultimately, they recommended an automatic locking system to the Town Council during the budget process. Such systems are now in place at four parks, and will soon be installed at the others.


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