Desert Mountain Times
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No potty at San Jacinto Plaza could kill pine tree after all

By Dan Bodine



An artist rendering of the San Jacinto Plaza makeover as initially approved by Council. (From City of El Paso website)

Yeah, yeah, we’re in the presence of ladies and children and other alleged delicate ears, but it’s reality check for the El Paso City Council in reference to omitting restrooms in their massive, $6 million makeover of San Jacinto Plaza, the historic downtown commons.

With signs expected to be posted in nearby  businesses’ windows stating “restrooms for customers only,” where else is someone who’s there for activities (or just to enjoy the visuals), and gets a nature call, going to go? Except behind a tree or a bush?

And then you’ll expect him or her to come back to this wilderness place the next time you schedule an event? Even those you fine for leaving their deposits the last trip?

There isn’t any other way of pointing out this soon-to-be double whammy other than by mentioning what I’ve always called backdoor, poor-folks thinking such as this.

Starting off with additional criminal charges that could come for peeing on trees, right?! (We do still file on offensive conducts, don’t we?)

San Jacinto Tree

The large “Christmas” pine seen during some of the ongoing reconstruction work at the plaza. (Image from Jim Tolbert’s El Paso Naturally)

And peeing on trees (enough of it), too, scalds the dickens out of ’em; and can even lead to their death! Especially the real big one down there where everyone’s going to want to go!

That one (in the adjacent photo) conservationists had to rally around recently in order to save! (story here).

And now we’ve saved it, but only to see it die in a few years from urine burn, right?

Seriously, anyone thought of this yet in the “no money for restrooms at San Jacinto Plaza” spat? You’d think we were a third-world country suffering from brain drain — e.g., their best and brightest thinkers had fled to the U.S. for more money!

Or, a variant, what will the city do with the extra money it gets from the pee fines? There’ll be some! If officers are alert! That’s not enough to make a note payment on a loan to construct something both pleasing and efficient?

If not, who will be blamed for “killing by pee”  this beautiful tree now? Huh? Adair did it?!!

(Pardon me, suffering an ol’ Cleburne High School flashback.)

Urine, yes, such as animal pee (alright, in this case men’s pee [A woman’s not going to do this, no way no how, bub! Not even one of these new Texas A&M graduates!), will scald the living daylights out of lawns, for instance. Think trees are immune?

But where else are beer drinkers to go, bub?!

Especially as evenings darken,

When cavalry trumpets harken?

(Apologies again; this topic can set you adrift easily!)

(For more background on this Plaza squabble, see city critic Martín Paredes’ “City Incompetence on Display at San Jacinto.”

But, gee, folks…No rest rooms? Not even uniquely desert-camouflaged porta-potties? Outfitted environmentally green to disperse treated waste water into the plaza’s plants irrigation lines?

No? Then you know what’s going to happen, right?!

To their credit, our earlier city councils established and maintained underground rest room facilities at the plaza.

The photo below shows part of the unit, posted by the current construction manager as it was being dug up last year! It’s being replaced by a “decorative arroyo.” (Oh, that just touches my ol’ beer-drinking heart! Thanks!)

San Jacinto restroomsSo what happened to it? Why isn’t it still being used? Who made the decision to void and nullify?

…(E)xcessive vandalism caused the…closure several years ago,” the current plaza project manager states in the post.

Which means, they were too expensive to keep up, right?! We got badder yáhoos today than they had at the turn of the last century?! We can’t pay that extra cost it takes to curb vandalism today?

Or are we different in other ways today, too?

We create dividers among us, such as aesthetically-approved, sanitized zones for nice people; but discourage folks from attending who might bring potential vandals?!

But nice folks don’t ever use outdoor, public restrooms, too? And they attend outdoor events?! How do they do that?!!

Ah, lessons on how to beautify a city: Create places where the worst won’t want to go! And spite your face!

I’m an ol’ country boy, yes. To tear up concrete block walls (A foot thick? That could’ve been a bomb shelter, too!) from a once, much-used, old underground public restroom, just to substitute it with a decorative arroyo attractive to out-of-town corporate visitors, seems a stretch.

That’s not improving quality of life for many local people, is it?

Admitting a simple blunder and correcting it seems so much more simpler, no?

Rather than allowing a massive renovation of a huge city’s central plaza that omitted public restrooms to go down as the Boondoggle of the Year?

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