Those who spend time on or near Race Street Pier may soon have an easier answer to what can be an extremely urgent question: Where's the bathroom?
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation executive board voted Thursday to give $175,000 to Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe in exchange for public access to the restrooms at Philly Fringe's future headquarters – across Delaware Avenue from the street from the pier at the foot of Race Street.
The Philly Fringe board will need to approve the partnership as well to make it official, said DRWC Vice President Joe Forkin.
Provided that happens, the restrooms would be available when Philly Fringe is finished the first phase of renovating the former pumping station, which Forkin said they aim to do by fall 2013.
The hours the restrooms would be open to the public are still under discussion, Forkin said, but talks are heading toward starting with something like noon to 6 pm on most days, with extended hours whenever there is a n event at Philly Fringe or on the waterfront. Eventually, the hours would grow, as Philly Fringe plans to open a restaurant on site, Forkin said.
The DRWC has been looking at ways to provide river-goers with more restrooms for more than a year. An earlier discussion pondered bringing in a company that would put up restrooms at no cost to DRWC in exchange for advertising exposure. Forkin said other ways of providing stand-alone restrooms were also considered. Portable restrooms have been brought in for events on Race Street Pier, but renting them long-term can get expensive. When the potential for this partnership came up, Forkin said it seemed a win-win: DRWC would get the restroom access, and Philly Fringe would get money toward its construction project.
Forkin said the one-time payment would ensure public restroom use in perpetuity.