Community Board 11 passed a motion on Thursday, December 18 to recommend the 180th Street station a good location for an Automated Public Toilet at the request of the Department of Transportation.
“They asked us for our input into known locations but they limited us to certain areas, like they didn’t want them in parks, and we looked around and thought that everyone complained to us about the 180th Street train station,” said Vincent Prezioso of CB11. “With little access to bathrooms there, we thought it would be a good place and there is a lot of room in that region to put it so we thought it was appropriate.”
The new self-cleaning APTs are apart of the City’s Coordinated Street Furniture Franchise with Cemusa, Inc. In this 20-year agreement, Cemusa will build and maintain 3,300 new bus shelters, 330 newsstands, 37 sheltered bike parking structures, and provide $ 1.4 billion in revenue to New York City.
According to a DOT press release, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan stated: “Restrooms are an essential part of a livable city and we will not ‘stall’ until we have world-class amenities and public spaces in New York. We are pleased to partner with Cemusa to bring these public toilets to communities across the City.”
In January of 2008, an APT was installed in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, followed by four more soon after in Brooklyn and Queens. Sites in Bronx and Staten Island continue to be reviewed, and the DOT has reached out to community groups and local elected officials for input on possible future locations, with the goal of eventually having APTs spread throughout the five boroughs.
“I already read about them and saw them on TV and I thought it was very impressive,” said Prezioso. “I don’t know what kind of reaction they will get from New York, but it seems to be a clean and safe area. No one in the board voted against it or had any problem, and any questions were answered to their satisfaction.”
The APTs, which cost 25 cents per use, are designed by Grimshaw Architects to reflect a modern look complimenting any public area, containing a toilet, washbasin and mirror inside. They are self-cleaning after each use to remain sanitary, and feature tamper proof automatic doors that open from the inside.
One of the many concerns with public lavatories is the illegal use and unsanitary conditions that develop over time, but the new APTs hope to prevent this through timed usage. The doors automatically open after 15 minutes, giving the person inside a three-minute warning with an acoustic alarm and flashing lights.