Public health adds porta potties following unhoused residents’ move to Clarkston park

Asotin County Health District administrator Brady Woodbury places signs on newly-placed portable toilets on Friday at Foster Park in Clarkston. (Credit: Jordan Opp / Lewiston Tribune)



Two portable toilets were installed at Foster Park in Clarkston on Friday morning after some unhoused residents started sleeping at the park following the closure of a homeless camp on February 12th.

The porta potties will remain in the park until roughly April, when the city is able to re-open its public restrooms, said Asotin County Public Health Director Brady Woodbury. The bathrooms at the park are old, he said, and the building was closed because it can’t be winterized.

Woodbury said the porta potties were installed after public health signed an agreement taking responsibility for any liability associated with the toilets. 

The city had declined to allow porta potties at the previous homeless camp for liability reasons, which led to sanitation concerns.

“We didn’t want to have the same thing happen at Foster Park as happened over the encampment, and have human waste in buckets and things like that,” he said.

Woodbury says a main liability concern from the city would be if drug users leave sharps in the porta potties. Woodbury said the health district will provide sharps containers, and work with Quality Behavioral Health’s Navigator Program to provide additional containers, as needed.

The porta potties will be pumped weekly by staff from the rental company, Woodbury said. If those staff do see any needles, they’ve been instructed to walk away. 

Woodbury said he also plans to add signage instructing safe disposal of needles, with a warning that not doing so will result in the porta potties not being serviced.

Woodbury estimated the cost for the toilets will be roughly $500, or slightly less, for the duration of their use, he said. The porta potties will be paid for through emergency preparedness funds from Washington state.

“This is a really, really simple step. But I think it actually kind of is some signal that there might be some walls coming down. People can work together,” he said.