by Marissa Marangoni
I decided to mix it up this month and cover a park bathroom. I put on my hiking backpack, packed a lunch for my kid, and went to Cascade Valley Park on Sackett Avenue. While it may seem a bit ridiculous to pack a lunch for a 0.5 mile “hike,” such things are necessary with children, and I did not regret carrying that backpack — especially when we got to the bathroom.
But let’s back up a second: I didn’t actually mean to go to this part of Cascade Valley Park. Where I really wanted to go was to the part of the park where the Signal Tree is, but I am bad at navigation, even with the modern convenience of Google Maps, and after I drove us around in circles for about 15 minutes, I gave up. Luckily, 3-year-olds think all trees are impressive and giant, so there was no disappointment.
When we arrived at the park, I was pleased to find that just a little bit down the trail to the overlook area, there was a bathroom structure. While someone in our party assured me he would not require a bathroom trip EVER, I knew otherwise.
We continued past the bathroom to eat lunch on a bench, yell “HI” repeatedly and “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” at everyone who walked by, and then walked the whole exhausting 0.5 miles, stopping at the truly lovely overlook to gaze at the majestic Cuyahoga River (which, apparently, is the same as the ocean when you are three years old) in all its fall glory.
As expected, when we neared the end of our journey, the someone who assured me he would not need the bathroom did, in fact, need the bathroom. We ran to the structure and I held my breath as I opened the door because, well, that is what I always do when I enter a bathroom: I hold my breath as I walk inside, survey the scene to see if anything looks amiss, and then I slowly breathe again to test the waters.
I am pleased to report that the Cascade Valley Park bathroom at Sackett Avenue was not smelly. And it was so much more than I expected.
This bathroom, situated to the right side of the trail within the first yards, is a single-stall setup with one toilet, one sink, and a changing table (yay!). It has plenty of space to maneuver around inside, and everything works.
While in this bathroom, there was an event. Fortunately my backpack contained wipes. Without giving you specific details that you probably do not want, I will simply say that I am not sure what I would have done with only the standard see-through TP provided in the bathroom.
This event led me to a genius idea: Public restrooms should have wipes dispensers. I know, I know, it’d be an extra cost, but maybe there’d be fewer gross messes left behind. The thing is, everyone needs a wipe sometimes. Why not respond to this need? There’d have to be some policing about never throwing the wipes in the toilet since they’re not flushable (despite what their packaging claims), but maybe a simple installation of a toilet hole strainer would do the trick. Or maybe a detection system that would post a picture of the person who tried to flush the wipe outside the bathroom. Public shaming is always effective.
Anyway, I haven’t tackled all the logistics of bathroom wipes dispensers, but I’m not in that line of work. I’m just the idea guy. You’re welcome, person in this line of work. Just give me credit on the label.
Overall, the Sackett Avenue bathroom at Cascade Valley Park is palatable, polite and proper. I give it a 4/5 toilets.
Marissa Marangoni has been writing about bathrooms for The Devil Strip since 2015.