Public restrooms are open and available in downtown Twisp, but the future of the facilities now appears to be a legal matter.
The restrooms are accessed off of East Second Avenue, directly across from the temporary town offices. They are scheduled to be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The facilities are inside The Merc Playhouse building and are used by theater patrons during events, but can also be accessed through a lockable public entrance on East Second Avenue. That access had been closed since November 2018 because of concerns about whether the facilities could be kept safe.
The Twisp Town Council recently decided to reopen the restrooms in response to requests from visitors and downtown merchants.
The Merc Playhouse Society, the nonprofit that operates the theater, has opposed re-opening the restrooms because of what it said are ongoing concerns about cleanliness, safety and the need for physical upgrades. The Playhouse Society’s board of directors had earlier alleged that the town was in breach of its contract to operate the facilities.
In a June 8 letter to the Town Council, The Merc’s board referenced a proposal to take over the Second Street restrooms from the town.
In the letter, the board said “We have been working quietly behind the scenes since 2018 to work out a way for the restroom facilities to come under The Merc’s purview.”
“It has been clear in the past that what the town accepts as appropriate maintenance does not meet the Merc’s or other public facility standards for cleanliness or safety,” the letter said.
Since the restrooms re-opened, the board’s letter said, “There is no sign of any ‘deep cleaning.’ There are still repairs that have not been completed.” The letter was accompanied by photos taken inside the restrooms, showing some damage to walls and floors.
Methow Valley News reporters visited the restrooms on separate occasions in the past week and found them to be clean.
“Please consider accepting our good faith offer,” The Merc board’s letter said. The board said it would “continue to work through our lawyer to find a solution agreeable to all.”
At the town council meeting last week, council members and staff did not comment on the letter because of the legal issues. “It’s between attorneys, which is unfortunate,” Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said.
In other business:
• The council appointed Jasmine Minbashian to a vacancy on the town’s Planning Commission. Minbashian is executive director of the Methow Valley Citizens Council, and has extensive experience with climate, planning, water quality and natural resources issues. Monica Frigone was also interviewed for the position, which must be filled by someone who lives in the town limits.
• The council increased the annual ground lease rate at the Twisp Municipal Airport from $395 to $407.25 under terms of the lease agreement.