PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Farmers Markets Director Amanda Milholland asked the Jefferson commissioners Monday for help in constructing an uptown restroom on county property for visitors to the Port Townsend Saturday Farmers Market.
The popular food and crafts market, which opens its 27th season on April 6, is held in front of the Jefferson County Community Center on Tyler Street between Lawrence and Clay streets.
It’s been at that location for the past 15 years, and Milholland said it’s become a destination for locals as well as visitors.
“The uptown Port Townsend Farmers Market is the largest of our three markets,” Milholland said. “It’s been voted one of the leading markets in the state. On summer Saturdays we have between 2,500 and 3,500 people in attendance. It is a really big part of our local economy.”
Milholland said she expects about 70 businesses to participate on Saturdays this year.
“It is an important business incubator and creates jobs for a lot of people in our county,” she said. “We can do so much to be a welcoming place, but it needs a collaborative effort with your help.
“We need a public restroom option for people uptown.”
Currently, the market rents the community center restrooms during the season and pays an annual fee for its customers to use their dumpsters.
Milholland said that the option is not sufficient anymore because the market continues to grow.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve rented two port-a-potties to reduce community use of the center and uptown business restrooms and make it so the farmers market can be more self-sufficient.”
But she finds the solution to be fundamentally flawed.
“We can’t keep them up there all week,” she said. “Good Man Sanitation brings them in on Friday and takes them away every Monday. There’s still some people who are uncomfortable using port-a-potties. In addition, we pay for additional hours to open the rec center’s restrooms.
“It’s not the same as having a permanent restroom to provide to visitors, vendors and the public. ”
She admits that during a busy market day, it’s hard to keep up with the hand sanitizer.
Milholland said food vendors have handwashing stations in their booths and that most craft vendors can use their neighbor’s stations, but the market is growing and needs a solution.
She told commissioners it was “time to work together to make a long-term plan to make the farmers market location an effective one for our community, and local businesses and vendors depend on it.”
Commissioner Kate Dean said it was important to support the farmers market, and Commissioner Greg Brotherton described some new restrooms that were installed in downtown Portland, Ore., that cost $100,000.
Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons said the Port Townsend Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) has been discussing restrooms in town.
“LTAC has committed $50,000 for 5 years for the projects and is looking to install them near the ferry terminal, on Taylor Street, and uptown,” Timmons said. “We talked about it in the context of the community center uptown near transit stops.”
Timmons said the committee is looking to go the prefabricated route.
“But they still require the associated infrastructure to be put in place,” he said. “They are typically treated horribly so they have to be built to stand up to a lot of use.”
He said that he hoped the county would be open to discussing locating the restrooms on county property.
“We are in the process of looking at designs and other issues like traffic control to help the situation. We see this as investing in the market and our economic development.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].