OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Olympia City Council plans to spend thousands of dollars to take care of a very smelly problem.
People are using alleyways as a bathroom and human waste is piling up in the downtown core.
A new plan aims to add more cleanup teams and place portable, public toilets in the city.
But the price tag – reaching $120,000 – has shocked some businesses owners.
Olympia Autohaus’ mechanic Travis Gilmour said the problem is persistent; he and his co-workers find human waste behind the garage often.
“You get a little whiff on the wind, it’s not fun,” he said.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened,” said garage owner Kate VonBank “It’s not going to be the last, unfortunately.”
Teams of cleaners from the Olympia Downtown Ambassadors already roam the streets picking up litter – but when they find human waste, they have to suit up and handle the material like a biohazard.
“Besides E. coli, you also expose yourself to hepatitis C and other things,” said Anna Schlect with the City of Olympia, “It is a public health issue.”
The City Council aims to expand the ambassadors program so workers can clean the streets more often; funding for more employees and security could cost $68,000.
Also in the works is a pilot program, which could deploying as many as four portable, public toilets around town; estimates for that reach towards another $55,000.
“We have to invest the right amount of tax dollars for the right solution,” said Schlect.
Mary Corso, owner of Courtyard Antiques, thinks the plan could be worth the money.
“We want to give these people an opportunity to have a safe place to go to,” she said.
VonBank said the estimated costs for the programs was a surprise, though she believes everyone should have access to a clean and safe restroom.
“I can’t believe the price tag but it is worth it to me because I do believe everybody should have a place to use the bathroom so they’re not forced to use the dumpster area,” she said.
The City Council won’t make a decision until later this month.