Letters to the Editor

Let it Snow

To the Editor,

With the strict pandemic rules on travel over the Holidays, I have had more time to walk our 16-year-old dog, Angus, around our city neighborhood. I like our night walk the most.  It is harder to see the litter that adorns the sidewalks and curbsides. The only time our neighbor looks clean, if not pristine, is after a heavy snow- if only for a short time. 

In many countries, people have more respect for their neighborhoods. Fines are stiff. Residents and store owners are required to keep their frontage clean.

Let it snow all winter. And shoveling is good exercise (if you are in shape).

Tris Dammin

Bathrooms Very Needed in Public Parks

To the Editor,

We cannot deny that bathrooms are necessary for a basic human need. This need for bathrooms in public space is denied now more than ever. I am not alone in this concern. I am a volunteer with Common Cathedral and Common Art. I have heard from many homeless people about the difficulty and often the impossibility of finding an open public bathroom on the Common and at Copley Square. I have also heard about the horrible indignities they suffer when they can’t find a bathroom, indignities which no human should have to suffer. I cannot ignore this and I beg you not to ignore it.

This lack of accessible, safe, clean bathrooms continues to be a serious public health problem which affects us all: homeless people who sleep outside as well as the many residents and tourists who enjoy these beautiful parks. Many homeless people formerly used the bathrooms at the Copley Library, now closed since last March. Hotels won’t let non-guests use the facilities. Burger King on Tremont Street won’t even let customers use their bathrooms. Currently there is no place for them to go since so many places are closed because of the virus.

We do not need to re-invent the wheel. I think there are some simple solutions. There already are some great bathrooms on the Common: at The Frog Pond and at the Visitors Information Center. However, the City of Boston doesn’t manage them. The Frog Pond bathrooms are managed by the Skating Club of Boston and are open currently from 10 to 4 Saturday through Thursday and from 10 to 5 on Fridays. I think the Frog Pond bathrooms could stay open all night. Or even at the least they could be open the hours that the Common is open to the pubic – which are 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The Visitors Information Center on the Common next to Tremont Street also has great bathrooms. It is managed by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, but sadly their bathrooms are now closed until further notice.   They had to furlough some employees as a result of the pandemic.

I am sure that if the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau had more funding they could be able to be open longer hours. The extra staffing needed to supervise and maintain these bathrooms could be quickly hired. I believe money can be found in the city’s budget and also raised from local businesses.

Other cities have responded to the bathroom crisis. Cambridge has public bathrooms in Harvard Square and in Central Square. Why can’t Boston just get the bathrooms it already has open longer hours and/or put up some porta potties and supervise them?  For about $1500 a month five porta-potties and a hand sanitation station can be rented and installed with weekly maintenance included. San Francisco has 24 supervised San Francisco Pit Stop stations, most of which are open 24/7. Why does Boston continue to ignore the problem? If there is a big event, like the Boston Marathon, there’s no problem having porta-potties at Copley. But now with everything shut because of the virus and with the need for public bathrooms greater than ever, the city of Boston has its head in the sand and ignores the problem.

Bathrooms are a necessity in public spaces. Simply put: The city can and should collaborate with the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Convention Bureau so they can  extend their hours and hire the staff needed to maintain and supervise these bathrooms. Or install some porta-potties which can be supervised and used in a safe and clean manner. This is not impossible given the combined resources of the city, the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Business and Convention Bureau. A workable solution  must be found and implemented as soon as possible to have bathrooms on the Common and at Copley Square 24/7. All people should be able to take care of a basic body function and keep their dignity.

Maria Termini

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