By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Park bathroom estimates prompt officials to hold it
Pepper Branch Park has been without a place to use the bathroom since this port-o-potty was thrown in the Barren Fork River in 2012. Despite high initial bids, city officials are continuing their push to bring a permanent bathroom facility to the popular park.

McMinnville officials haven’t flushed the idea of a bathroom at Pepper Branch Park, but the cost will put an unexpected strain on the budget.
Two companies submitted bids for construction of new bathrooms at Pepper Branch Park. The lowest bid was $86,000, while the highest was $114,000. Officials requested basic men’s and women’s bathrooms approximately 10 feet by 20 feet with heat but no air conditioning.
“That’s just extremely high,” said Alderman Ben Newman. “I talked to Ryan Maloney and he said there are several reasons the cost is so high. One is that it’s a small project and people wanted to make it worth their while to do it.”
Maloney is half of Griggs and Maloney, a provider of civil and environmental engineering and environmental consulting services to public agencies and private entities. The city contracted with the company to provide master plans for Pepper Branch Park, as well as Rocket Park.
The city placed $25,000 in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget for construction. Because the cost far exceeded the budget, the bathroom project backed up.
At that same time last year, officials placed $25,000 in the budget to construct ADA-compliant bathrooms at Riverfront Park due to the existing bathrooms not meeting current ADA requirements.
“We discussed maybe bidding out both those at the same time as one project,” said Newman. “That makes it a little bit larger dollar value. Maybe we’ll get more people bidding on it and get better bids.”
As part of that contract, Griggs and Maloney provides engineering and design assistance for the bathrooms that includes civil site plans, architectural plans, structural and foundation plans, electrical and plumbing plans, and contract and bid specifications suitable for bidding the work.
Newman says he spoke with Maloney about reducing the amount of paperwork associated with the project and in so doing, reducing the cost for companies to obtain a bid package.
“I asked Ryan, too, about making the bid package smaller,” said Newman. “It was thick and I think it cost $150 for someone to pick up a copy and bid on it. I think that was a barrier, too.”
While bathrooms were put on hold pending a second round of bids, consideration was given to stabilizing the entrance into Barren Fork River from Pepper Branch Park. Currently, gravel slides down into the water and more has to be added on a regular basis.
“I think we talked about doing something there, maybe not a ramp, but something to sturdy up the gravel that’s down there at the base going into the water,” said Newman. “I know that cost has been taken out now.”
Griggs and Maloney, during a prior meeting, recommended rubber mats under the gravel to better hold it in place.
“Maybe we could place some fencing to keep people out of certain areas with their vehicles,” said Newman. “That’s causing vegetation to go away.”
City administrator Bill Brock suggested the use of boulders rather than a fence.
“A fence looks a lot better,” said Newman.
Committee members unanimously voted to include $50,000 for fencing, stabilizing gravel and other upgrades at Pepper Branch, and $65,000 each for bathrooms at Pepper Branch and Riverfront parks.