JONESBOROUGH - The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen is looking into providing some needed relief for downtown businesses and their patrons.
As a part of the board's two-year work plan, town officials have developed preliminary designs for a public restroom that would be located behind the Washington County Courthouse.
According to Town Administrator Bob Browning, the public restroom would serve as a starting point for a linear park that would possibly run from Guy Weems' old law office to Second Avenue.
"The linear park would run beside the creekway and there's been some talk about naming the park after former County Commissioner W.C. Rowe," Browning said. "The park and the walkway around town were very important to W.C. during his tenure and he really got the ball rolling on the discussion of a park.
"The restroom itself would be built onto the back of the brick structure that was the front of Guy Weems' office because it's a part of historic zoning. It's possible that we would turn the remaining brick structure into an interpretive area, open to the public at different times, to show the horse stable and office that used to occupy the building and how important it was to the town up to the early 1900s."
For downtown merchants, a public restroom isn't exactly a new idea. Many have gone to the board over the years complaining about the lack of one - especially during Music on the Square.
"We need them badly," said Nancy Colburn, owner of The Cranberry Thistle restaurant on Main Street. "Especially, with as many busloads of tourists someone like Linda Poland of Positive Solutions brings into town each week.
"There are public restrooms on Fox Street but they're not well marked ... but Music On The Square especially, everyone gets asked about using their restroom because there is no where to go."
Colburn said the town does leave the downstairs part of the courthouse open in order to access restrooms during Music On The Square, but she feels it could be dangerous practice.
"You don't know who might sneak up in there," she said.
Todd Dawn, owner of Bistro 105 on Main Street, came to the board last year complaining about the inconvenience Music On The Square created for his business - primarily people wishing to use his restroom.
"The town just needs (public restrooms), especially on the weekends and on Sunday when no one is open," Colburn said.
Browning said the initial designs for the restroom were done by Ken Ross Architects in 2003.
"Basically, one of the issues that sort of held it up was the sewer project," Browning said.
Jonesborough's Flood Prevention Project ran through the entry way of the proposed linear park and into the parking lot behind the county office building.
"Our goal right now is to address the restroom and the park during the next two years, hopefully this year."
Browning said there has been discussion about getting the materials for the project donated, while the town takes up the installation of utilities.
"(County Mayor) George Jaynes has told me that he wants to work with us and possibly provide some county workers that have construction skills to take part in the building, which we also have," he said. "But I think the town would maintain it and keep the facility up.
"We've talked about this for many years, revised it, and its one of the projects the board is looking at."