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The restroom at Sandy Beach Pavilion No. 1 in the center of the park is being winterized and can now be used year-round. (Photo by Shelby Herbert/KFSK)

For the first time, a restroom in a local park owned by Petersburg Parks and Recreation will remain open year-round. Sarah Fine-Walsh, a Parks and Recreation board member, and her husband, Thomas Fine-Walsh, a member of the Petersburg Borough Assembly, have been pushing for more restroom access for several years.

Thomas said they came up with the idea during an outdoor spring concert in Sandy Beach when they realized all the nearby restrooms were locked.

“We were a little frustrated that there were no public restrooms at the event,” said Thomas. “Because when you’re asking all these people to come out and listen to your music, it’s nice to provide those restrooms for them. I think it sends a nice message to the attendees that we care about them. I also enjoy playing music and it’s important to me to create a pleasant atmosphere at music events in the city.”

Music prompted the Fine-Walshes to take action on the bathroom situation. It also became the medium of their message when they wrote a song about the bathroom situation in Petersburg. It’s called “The Bathroom Song” and they have performed it throughout the Southeast with their psychedelic rock band Del Gatto.

“It was just kind of a fun little improvisational piece,” Sarah said. “But (the song) also really helped us work out exactly what we wanted: It wasn’t just about bathrooms, it was all the year long Bathroom.”

The restroom in the middle of Sandy Beach Park is the only one that remains open year-round. The other two Parks and Recreation restrooms close in the fall. They are located on the east side of Sandy Beach and at the Whale Observatory.

The Fine-Walshes hope that this is just the beginning. They would like to see the day when all public toilets in Petersburg are open all year. Thomas said he hoped the recent three percent increase in the bed tax would cover the maintenance and operating costs associated with more Public toilets open all year round.

Winterizing Sandy Beach’s only restroom for year-round use will cost the department nearly $4,000.