Ramp planned for restrooms

County of Marin
Radio host Lyons Filmer pulls weeds under the stairs leading to KWMR's offices. She will retire at the end of the year, and spend her newfound free time doing the same in her home garden.  

Eleven years after building public restrooms in Point Reyes Station, Marin County is now finishing the project with a ramp to allow disabled access from Mesa Road. Although the facilities themselves are built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, disabled people now must drive to the parking lot at the playground to access the sole ramp.

“It’ll be nice to be able to walk there,” said Laurie Monserrat, whose crutches prevent her from walking either the dirt paths or the steep road to the facility. “I try to tell folks that are disabled, ‘Don’t try to roll over there because you won’t make it.’ It should never have been built without [a ramp.]” 

The bathrooms were originally designed with a second ramp, but construction was delayed due to the cost. Over the years, a network of unofficial dirt trails has formed in front of the restrooms, while the ramp project has worked its way up the priority list of accessibility barriers the county wants to remove. County project managers presented their vision at a Point Reyes Station Village Association meeting last week.

Although the ramp’s architecture, which follows building code requirements for slope and grade, has been designed, the landscaping and materials used for its surface and handrails are still up for debate. 

“I’m not going to strictly say, ‘Okay it’s accessible, and that’s all I’m worried about,’” Laney Morgado, the county’s disability access manager, told the group. “I like things to be aesthetically pleasing, and I like things to blend in well with the environment. We really want this to be something that everyone is comfortable with.” 

Engineers originally developed several design alternatives and ultimately decided the ramp should run parallel to the bathrooms, from west to east, in order to achieve the correct slope and alignment with the curb. 

Project manager Michael Shane said that although he will consider feedback from the village association, he recommends concrete for the ramp and steel for the handrails because those materials require less maintenance than wood. The color, texture and finish of the concrete can be customized, he said. He could not yet estimate the cost of the project.

One member of the crowd asked about building a separate bathroom at street level instead of a ramp, but Ms. Morgado said doing so would violate the A.D.A. Others wanted to discuss adding bathrooms to the site, which is now flanked by a collection of porta-potties, but Ms. Morgado said that falls outside the scope of the project. 

“That’s not to say we’re not all aware that there is a need for restrooms in the area, and that there’s issues around capacity—there definitely is,” she said. 

The lack of public restrooms has been identified as a top issue in community water planning meetings, and adding facilities is a priority for the village association. Marin spends approximately $99,000 every year to rent, pump and maintain the park restrooms—the third most-used parks facility countywide.

The village association opted not to form a subcommittee to give input about the ramp’s design, instead handing that responsibility to the existing design review subcommittee. If project managers can incorporate its feedback and come up with a final design in the next few months, construction could take place next spring or summer. 

“It’s not on a tight, strict timeline as of right now,” Ms. Morgado said.

In addition to the ramp, the county’s public works department is considering  installing a crosswalk on Mesa Road in front of the restrooms, where some years ago someone painted a short-lived rogue crossing. The department already installed curb ramps with yellow warning mats on both sides of the road but said the traffic division must conduct a traffic assessment before it paints a crosswalk.