There are currently very limited quantities of and access to public toilets in Downtown Chapel Hill. This has been discussed in the past but was brought up again specifically during the Downtown Work Plan Update public input process.
Public toilets are a valuable asset to Downtown and make all visitors to the area stay longer and feel more welcome. They also create a positive message alternative to businesses that have “Bathrooms for customer use only” signs; lessen the burden of businesses to provide this asset; and keep visitors from having to purchase items in order to use a business’s bathroom. They would also increase cleanliness and reduce odor from improper uses of public spaces by alleviating use of outdoors.
Identified public toilets aim to serve families, pregnant women, differently-abled, and seniors, those with medical conditions, visitors, tourists, special event goers, those experiencing homelessness, and transit riders. The team determined that the identified facilities should be:
Highly visible, welcoming and safe;
Efficient to maintain; and
Accessible for differently-abled individuals including those in a wheelchair, using a walker, or otherwise unsteady on their feet.
The Town formed a team of Town staff, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau and Orange County Partnership to End Homeless to explore the challenges around Downtown public toilets, identify opportunities, and present to relevant community leadership. This team compiled recommendations around Downtown public toilets which can be found here. Next steps in Fall 2019 include rolling out these recommendations to Town and Town partner stakeholders and exploring a Downtown public toilet pilot program.