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Vandalism at beach restrooms in Marine City addressed

Photo courtesy of CTV Community Television/YouTube Marine City Manager Scott Adkins filled the commission in on what had occurred when the beach restrooms were vandalized over Memorial Day weekend. He’s pictured here in the center with City Clerk Jason Bell to the left and City Attorney Robert Davis on the right.

Officials plan to beef up security with technology

By Barb Pert Templeton

The public restrooms at the Marine City Beach don’t even open until Memorial Day weekend but it didn’t take long for an individual or perhaps a group to vandalize the facilities and prompt their closing on May 28. 

The Facebook Page, City of Marine City, Michigan, had a post that day with a sign noting the closure of the beach restrooms due to vandalism which then generated 163 comments. Many were from residents upset about the situation and suggesting the city install cameras outside the restrooms to catch the culprits. 

When Marine City Police Chief James Heaslip was contacted by phone about the situation on June 10, he said new processes are being put in place to address the issue. He said the charge for such action would be malicious destruction of property and the fine incurred would depend on the damage and what a judge would deem appropriate.

When asked if he thought maybe the vandalism was occurring at night, he explained that the restrooms are locked up at 7 p.m. each day so the damage had to have been inflicted in broad daylight. 

At a June 6 meeting of the Marine City Commission City Manager Scott Adkins addressed the topic during his administrative report to officials offering more specific details about what occurred.

“There was a lot of confusion and as you’ve all seen many, many posts on Facebook, some were fairly close to being factual, most of them were not,” Adkins said, noting that the beach has two sets of bathrooms, a smaller older set close to the beach and then more near the pavilion.

Photo courtesy of City of Marine City, Michigan/Facebook
This sign was posted on the City of Marine City, Michigan Facebook page on May 28.

He said the recent incident had unknown individuals vandalizing both the men’s and women’s pavilion restrooms. They pulled soap dispensers off the walls and spread the soap contents on the floors, sinks and walls. They also went into the toilet facilities and threw “every type of material you can image and some human waste material on top of that rendering all of the bathrooms unusable.”

Adkins said it took the DPW staff hours and hours to clean up the mess.

“To the point we actually had employees getting physically sick because of the conditions,” Adkins said. “There is no excuse for people doing this.”

Second set of restrooms can be opened

The whole incident snowballed on Facebook to the point of people stating that the city beach had no restrooms for visitors to utilize but actually the second set of restrooms were available, Adkins said.

“There were still bathrooms there but unfortunately some people chose not to use those bathrooms and do what they needed to do outside, even change clothes,” Adkins said. “But I want to stress the importance that there were other bathroom facilities there.”

Adkins said they normally open the restrooms the weekend before Memorial Day but all of them weren’t open yet because they had limited staff, many who were still completing their classes at the high school. 

“We had limited staff and now I hope people can understand why we can’t just open all the restrooms at once, it’s going to be one set or another from time to time, because of staff,” Adkins said.

Photo courtesy of bluewater.org
The beach in Marine City has restrooms near the pavilion and another older set closer to the beach. 

In addition, the city has changed its protocol and will have the beach staff go into the restrooms on a regular basis to do a check, perhaps at least every hour.

“Maybe that will help us know that nothing’s been done there and the police department is becoming more engaged when they can,” Adkin said. “We can’t put cameras inside the bathrooms but we’ll be meeting with vendors on enhanced camera systems including at the Tot Lot (off Washington Street) and other areas.”

A pattern in the recent vandalism could mean the damage may have been done by the same person or group, and Adkins noted that a port-a-john had been destroyed the week before the restroom vandalism occurred. 

Quoting the old saying, “this is why we can’t have nice things” Adkins said the recent incident is why the city can’t leave bathrooms open without any attendants on duty.

“We don’t want to penalize our residents or any users but we have to have watch full eyes,” he said.

He added that the city will be putting up signs letting users known if one restroom is closed, they can use the other ones. 

“We’re hopeful we can have some other options on the table for security enhancement for these things and right now we’re doing the best that we can,” Adkins said. 

Commissioner Brian Ross commented during his commissioner privilege to remind people that public parks belong to all residents so if you respect the city’s property, you’re respecting your own property. If you see something, say something, call the city or the police or a commissioner, he added.

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