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New bathroom facility coming to Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park bathrooms.jpg
Bathrooms are being constructed on the upper level of Riverfront Park by McMinnville Parks and Recreation Department. As a cost-saving measure, some of the work is being completed by city employees. Two more parks are on the list to receive restrooms. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

After a three-year wait, the process to construct bathrooms at city-owned parks has begun.

“We have $130,000 in the budget,” said McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord. “We’re doing as much of the work in-house as we can. I hope we can construct bathrooms at Riverfront Park, Pepper Branch Park and Ramsey Park with that.”

In 2016, city officials placed $50,000 in the department’s 2016-17 fiscal year budget for construction of bathrooms at Riverfront and Pepper Branch Park. Requested was ADA-compliant basic men’s and women’s bathrooms approximately 10 feet by 20 feet with heat, but no air conditioning. 

Pepper Branch Park was bid first. The lowest bid received was $86,000, while the highest was $114,000. Those bids were rejected, and officials increased the amount budgeted to $65,000 for each bathroom. 

Riverfront Park currently has bathroom access. However, they are not ADA complaint. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes specific guidelines for construction of accessible bathrooms. The state of Tennessee has given local government until December 2019 to become compliant or risk the loss of gasoline tax funds.

Because Pepper Branch Park and Ramsey Park have never had permanent bathroom access, those parks do not fall under the end-of-the-year deadline given by the state.

Visitors to Pepper Branch had access to a port-a-potty until 2012. It was routinely vandalized. 

During that year, it was thrown into the Barren Fork River and the decision was made to not offer bathroom access at that park.