Are Customers Using Dubuque's New $375,000 Restroom?

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Some taxpayers in Dubuque wonder if the city is flushing money down the toilet. That's after it built a $375,000 public restroom.

City leaders say one big reason they built the bathroom was to help customers shopping at the Cable Car Square. The new three stall restroom opened the day after Thanksgiving and sits at the corner of 5th and Bluff Streets.

The restroom helps business owners in Cable Car Square meet "Americans With Disabilities Act" requirements. Many of the buildings in that shopping district are historic and unable to convert to those accessibility needs.

City leaders say there's no way of keeping track of how many people use this bathroom each day. However, they say in the three weeks it's been open, they've had to restock supplies several times.

While taking a stroll through the Cable Car Square, some shoppers wonder how a building the restroom could cost so much.

"I was expecting a little more than that. So the price is kind of shocking," said Ashley Higgins.

Genna Twining said, "I haven't seen many people use it. I don't really know what to think about it. "

Taxi-cab driver Bill Sanders says he makes regular stops to the restroom and says it's money well spent.

Saunders said, "To get what they needed they had to spend a little more. "

City leaders say the building's glazed brick was expensive, but is easier to clean.

Inside, "Outside The Lines" art gallery, it's the busy season for owner, Connie Twining. If her customers ask to use her bathroom, she agrees.

Twining said, "They want to shop. We want to keep them in our stores. So you bet, you want to use the bathroom, I am going to let you use the bathroom. "

Still Twining says she tells customers about the new, nearby restroom.

"I know it was expensive but there is a value in that beauty,' said Twining. "You can't stick a utilitarian looking ugly building right across the street from the historic federal building."

The bathroom is not open overnight. Crews lock the doors from 10 pm until 8 am. The city plans to install an automatic lock system, but those aren't in place just yet.

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