Woodstock rejects playground bid for inclusive playground but moves ahead with unisex bathroom

Bathrooms slated to be operational by end of September

A rendering of Nature's Way Playground in Woodstock's Emricson Park is expected to be completed this fall.

The city of Woodstock expects its intergenerational inclusive playground will be finished before winter – even though the City Council rejected the one bid it received to do the work.

The city sent out for bids last month, but received only one incomplete bid. The bid was considered incomplete because it didn’t acknowledge an addendum and city staff recommended rejecting the bid, according to city documents.

The City Council voted to reject that bid as part of its consent agenda, so officials didn’t discuss it. The city plans to rebid the playground and city staff expects “the City will receive more favorable and complete bids for this project,” according to city documents.

Unisex bathrooms are also slated to be included at the playground.

The Woodstock City Council voted on plans for the Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bathrooms, which were originally slated to be single-gender. One bathroom would have had two stalls and the other one stall and a urinal. Both bathrooms are set to include a stall and sink, and one bathroom is slated to have an adult changing table.

Julie Peters, who said she was a former Woodstock resident and still considers Woodstock to be home, asked the City Council if they could add at least one adult changing table to the restrooms.

Woodstock City Engineer Chris Tiedt said the double-stall restrooms would not have been able to include the changing table and still be in compliance with ADA clearance requirements.

The City Council was very receptive to Peters’ request. Council member Natalie Ziemba said the city has to be inclusive to all people and said “it was a struggle” when she and students went out in the community to find a restroom that would work when she was employed as an aide.

Council member Melissa McMahon also supported the unisex bathrooms, saying that people wouldn’t be required to choose a gender to use the bathroom.

The city of Woodstock received a $100,000 federal Community Development Block grant for the restrooms, but the city has to provide a $10,000 match. Another stipulation of the grant funding is that the bathrooms need to be up and running by the end of September.

“We cannot put this park at risk. We cannot put the funding at risk. Those are two absolutes for me,” Woodstock Mayor Mike Turner said. He later expressed support for the unisex bathrooms after city staff noted the timeline and grant funding wouldn’t be affected by the new configuration.