Are downtown public restrooms on First Street worth the expense of keeping? That’s the question facing Geneseo aldermen.

Are downtown public restrooms on First Street worth the expense of keeping? That’s the question facing Geneseo aldermen.

The restrooms, which are built from cement block, are located in the alley between Vintage Redheads and the Geneseo Republic.

Vintage Redheads is located at 101 S. State St. For many years, that site served as Geneseo’s City Hall. The public restrooms were constructed at the rear of the building for the convenience of shoppers and those attending events and festivals in the downtown area.

Piping for the bathrooms runs through the 101 S. State St. building, which was sold by the city to Tom Mays.

“We cannot find any paperwork that was completed in the past giving us permanent rights to enter his building to do work on the bathroom pipes,” said city administrator Lisa Kotter. “He is now asking us to get the pipes separated so we no longer have to go into his building.”

Installing separate pipes could cost between $5,000 and $7,000. In addition, once work of that scope is undertaken, the city would be responsible for making the bathrooms ADA compliant. Doing so would involve converting the two-stall women’s restroom into a single-stall bathroom. The men’s restroom would lose its urinal and also become a single-stall bathroom.

City officials wanted to present the situation to aldermen before asking for price estimates for the additional upgrade work.

“We wonder if they’re even necessary,” said Kotter.

The new Geneseo City Hall, located at 115 S. Oakwood, is just over a block from the existing restrooms. Public restrooms — which can be accessed 24/7 — are located in the city hall lobby.

“Anytime you have outdoor bathrooms, they’re difficult to keep nice,” said Kotter, adding the indoor lobby restrooms are in better condition.

Because city hall also is home to the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce, the lobby serves as a welcome center and features numerous brochures and pamphlets promoting area businesses and events.

“Having people come to city hall (to use the restrooms) might be advantageous,” said Kotter.

In lieu of changing the First Street restroom piping and updating the bathrooms, the city could opt to remove the bathrooms and instead have businesses direct customers to city hall.

“I don’t think they’re needed,” said alderman Craig Arnold, who said he had “no idea” where the First Street restrooms were located and added “how many other communities provide public restrooms?”

“Either way, we’ll still have public restrooms downtown,” stressed Kotter, reminding aldermen the city hall lobby would remain open to the public. Portable toilets also are rented for the downtown area during major events, such as Christmas Walk and Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

“As much as I’m trying to convince myself they’re not needed, I’m still struggling (with the idea of removing them),” said alderman Sean Johnson.

“I don’t think I’m ready to give up on them,” added alderman Paula Simosky.

The First Street bathrooms are closed in the winter months, after Christmas Walk, but the city pays to heat them so pipes don’t freeze. The utility bills for the restrooms for the past year were $2,084.

“I’m inclined to get rid of them,” said alderman Bob Wachtel. “Even if we put $15,000 or $20,000 into it, it’s still a cement block building.”

Aldermen requested additional pricing information on the restrooms and will revisit the issue at a future committee of the whole meeting.