Dear PoP – Why are these Restrooms Locked?

“Dear PoP,

Took advantage of the lingering daylight and went for a walk in Malcolm X Park. Despite seeing human feces in a stairwell (I’ll spare you and the readers a picture) and having to leave a bench shortly after sitting because the area reeked of urine, the park’s restrooms are padlocked during open hours. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen them open (I could be wrong there). Is there a reason for this? They’re brand new–just constructed last year. It doesn’t seem to make sense that they’re locked up.”

Hmm, when I walked through the park last weekend the doors were open. Maybe they just close at dusk? Anyone know what time they close? The NPS Website says the park is open during daylight hours. I’m guessing the bathrooms must’ve just closed for the night when you stopped by.

32 Comment

  • i was definitely there on one of those sunny days last week in the 3:00 neighborhood, and they were locked. what is the deal?!

  • When I run in Meridian/Malcolm X in the morning (around 7/7:30), a cleaning crew shows up to pick up litter, clean the bathrooms, etc. The doors are always locked before they come, but I think open after. I have no idea about nights or weekends though.

  • I was there like two weeks ago midday and they were open. I was pretty surprised.

  • we need more public bathrooms in this city.

  • Me too!

  • it’s just Meridian Park.

  • I have seen them locked in daylight as well.

    I would love more public restrooms in the city but don’t even think about mentioning how they’d be paid for (cleaning, supplies, etc). People want stuff but they don’t want to pay for it (taxes). Oh well.

  • Well, maybe those are open only seasonally during specific hours? Have you visited the other restrooms in the same park just down the stairs by the fountain? Aside from the fact that there’s urine and excrement essentially… everywhere… the dime bags that litter the floor and dirty glory holes can give you an idea of what goes on inside. It’s ashame it smells like urine next to some benches (still I’m sure much nicer than it was say 10 years ago), but it would be nice to have some sort of control over the restrooms so they don’t become a destination for such activity.

  • Ahh the memories… thank you for this.

  • One day I was wondering around and stumbled upon the restrooms by the fountains, only to find a very threatening looking dog guarding the door while I couple of individuals were doing who knows what…I hightailed it out of there to quickly to find out…

  • Another bothersome thing about the park is the blatant disregard for the “No Team Sports” signs. Those green fields are real nice for 2 weeks before they become dirt/mud patches by all the people playing soccer.

    • Team sports and recreational activities are actually effective community building tools and are productive uses of the city’s parks. They also probably keep away some of the drunks and drug dealers. I’d also rather have a bathroom filled with athletes rather than crackheads.
      Perfect green grass minus dog feces would be nice but thats meant for a golf course, not a city.

      • +++100000

        labeling team sports as “bothersome” makes me think urban living is not for jvill. i love the community aspect you feel when you’re tossing a ball with a couple friends while next to you a father is teaching his son how to play soccer, etc.

        sports and recreation are what big community parks are for…F those signs 😀

        • he labeled the disrespect of rules as bothersome, not the sports teams. it’s subtle, but reading comprehension is important.

  • Public Restrooms in DC would be an epic disaster. They would be homeless shelters, heroin dens, crack-houses, hookup spots, etc in no time at all. It sucks that you can’t go to the bathroom in an established bathroom in the park, but I honestly believe that the risks involved outweigh the rewards. They would have to be cleaned daily, and yet they would undoubtedly be FILTHY all the time. Meridian hill park is great, but, there are some sketchy happenings at ALL times of day. Open restrooms would just attract more of those sketchy happenings.

    • Pay toilets. Bathroom attendants.

    • i’d rather have the bathrooms a mess than the homeless dropping their logs in some corner in the park or in my alley. “epic disaster”? its already a disaster. a public bathroom at least becomes a place that has water and can be policed and cleaned.

      • Agreed. It’s not as if all of the DC dregs say, “Heck, I would’ve crapped all over a bathroom, shot up, smoked crack, jerked off and urinated everywhere, but it was locked. Guess I’ll go home and take a nap”. Instead, they just do it in the many alleys, in the libraries, or on the metro. So I say, open the public bathrooms and force people to live in them.

  • I think they close the bathrooms @4pm – I was there 2 weeks ago when they were locking them up… I think it was around that time. Maybe they have not moved to “summer” hours yet?

    “Team sports and recreational activities are actually effective community building tools”

    Recreational activities are one thing, team sports are another. Team sports kill the grass, which is the point.

    I lived near this park for 10 years, and just moved back – I live across the street. I love watching 4-6 people playing soccer keep-ball (kick arounds), but when 60 men are playing 3 full games of football (soccer) – it is not fun to be there. There is no places for non-football people to recreate.

    That is why team sports are (and imho opinion should be)banned – destruction of the grass and the use for all people. And please keep in mind, I am a huge footie/soccer fan, DCUnited ticket holder, so I am not anti-footie.

    Since moving back (I was away from 2006 til 2010) – it amazes me how many more people are using it (yes, the drug folks still rule the night). During the day, I still see the 5-6 people playing keep-ball footie, but I also see bocce players, frisbee players, more kids on bikes, and the “circus” folk at the end – doing all the rope and balancing stuff. It is much better multi-used park now that it is no longer known as an informal “soccer field”. And the drum circle still is a wonderful sunday event.

    If only the city could redo the soccer field in Adams Morgan….

  • OP must be new to the area and is attempting to compensate by calling it Malcolm X park. having seen a dude publicly masturbating on the park benches, I will say that some people don’t need a bathroom to engage in illicit behavior. Nonetheless, the locks probably help.

    • OP here, and no, I’m not new–I’ve lived in DC for five years and across the street from this park for three of them. I use the names interchangeably and really don’t give a shit about compensating or overcompensating for your self-righteous, smug ass, it’s just what I happened to write when I had more pressing issues on my mind.

      There are plenty of dark corners of the park to engage in your illicit behavior, Anon. For instance, I’m sure you’re familiar with the old bathrooms and the park’s many stairwells, since you’re such an expert on the place. But bright, open, fully-within-view bathrooms are less likely to attract those activities (or at least that was my understanding of the design). It’s not like there’s some magical property inherent in a restoom that attracts criminal or disgusting behavior. As many people have pointed out, shit goes down all over that park. If the aforementioned dude didn’t bother to go into the restroom to masturbate, why not just leave it open so the rest of us can take a piss?

  • I guess if you find the doors locked you can always run east a few blocks and use the Tivoli Theatre ticket booth (at least until Z Burger takes over).

  • has anybody seen those futuristic public toilets they have in london? i lived there briefly some years back, and their public toilets were self-cleaning and solar powered. amazing!

    they were approximately the size of a large handicap stall, and i’m not sure if it either had censors on the floor or timers or what, but when you’d finished washing your hands and shut the door behind you, it would essentially flush itself with a quick spray down of water. not sure if it did that after every user or not, but i never went in one that wasn’t clean, and they were in very high pedestrian volume places. there was a time limit factor that i don’t remember, but it was clearly posted in a few languages that the bathroom would self-clean every so-often, and i guess this was effective in keeping homeless people from using it as a hotel room.

    it is possible, that’s all i’m saying. these were so high tech and environmentally friendly…PLUS this was ten years ago! we need to get with it.

    • Yes, I’ve seen this type of bathroom in San Francisco. You push a button on the outside to open it, go in and use it, then leave, and before anyone else can go in, it makes you wait 60 seconds while it self cleans. I had been walking around looking for a bathroom and found it at the perfect time. It was located near a huge open field in Golden Gate park and a busy commercial strip, so it must get a lot of traffic, but it worked perfectly for me and was not dirty at all.

      Those who claim public bathrooms must become magnets for illicit behavior need to consider all possible designs and solutions before simply writing off such a beneficial public good.

  • But, we already have public restrooms on U street, namely the alley behind Ben’s Chili Bowl. Also, apparently most of V street, and the courtyard of the Marion Barry center on 14th.

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