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Composting toilets coming to town park this summer

M54 Trailhead composting toilet by Clivus Multrum Inc.

Compostable toilets such as the M54 Trailhead by Clivus Multrum, Inc. can be powered using solar energy, though Supervisor Peter Parsons does not expect the proposed location in the Town Park to be suitable for solar panels. (Courtesy of Clivus Multrum Inc.)

Town Supervisor Peter Parsons realizes that toilets are not something people often get excited about, but the two new compostable toilets he plans to install in the Town Park are a far cry from the portable ones that currently grace the park and are expected to be much welcomed additions.

“What people should be excited about is having toilets at the Town Park that do not stink,” Mr. Parsons told The Ledger.

While the odor and lack of cleanliness of port-a-potties is notorious, the central issue at hand is accessibility, he said.

Currently the town park has two sets of full-flush “water closets” and one set of port-a-potties, including restrooms inside the enclosed swimming pool facility and baseball field pavilion, and port-a-potties servicing another area of the park.

The swimming pool and baseball field facilities are often locked, leaving the public with no choice but the port-a-potties, Mr. Parsons said.

“They stink to high heaven,” he said. “There are plenty of people — particularly ladies — if the swimming pool is open they will walk a good distance to beg the swimming pool to let them in just to use the bathroom, but that only applies when the swimming pool is open. Quite honestly what people need is a respectable toilet around the activities they are using.”

Logistics

The two compostable toilets are made by Clivus Multrum Inc. Mr. Parsons has said he hopes to have them functioning by July.

At its meeting on Monday, June 2, the Town Board awarded the contract for the installation of the toilets to Clivus Multrum at a cost of $59,623, plus $1,500 for maintenance.

M54 Trailhead Compotable Toilet by Clivus Multrum

The M54 Trailhead by Clivus Multrum, Inc. is the model compostable toilet Mr. Parsons expects to install in the Town Park. (Courtesy of Clivus Multrum Inc.)

Installation will include hooking up the power grid to run fans and lighting for the facility. Mr. Parsons said he has considered requests from the Planning Board that the facility be solar powered, but the location of the facilities will likely be along a tree line and heavily shaded.

“I don’t want to make it the centerpiece of the Town Park,” he said.

A composting toilet sets itself apart from a traditional port-a-potty by requiring less maintenance and by breaking down waste via aerobic decomposition, as opposed to chemical toilets that hold waste in chemical mixtures to disinfect and attempt to deodorize.

“There is no water and there is very little sewage,” he said. “You are letting the stuff self-destruct, and then the small amount that is left over is picked up.”

Mr. Parsons recently toured similar compostable toilets that have sprung up around the county in parks, golf courses, and other open spaces, including Joe Bohrdrum Park in North Salem, where Mr. Parsons and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Dana Mayclim toured.

The system will require yearly maintenance, but Mr. Parsons is confident that it will be less than the regular maintenance port-a-potties require.

The advanced systems come at a significantly larger initial cost, yet with endorsements from neighboring municipalities and the county Parks Department, Mr. Parsons said they will be a significant improvement to Lewisboro’s most visited park.

“We did a lot of work, did a lot of homework on this,” he said. “We believe these are as clean and stink-free as a normal water toilet.”

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