Community members, officials discuss universal bathroom concept for WL rec center

Community members and Parks and Recreation Officials gathered Tuesday to discuss the details of developing a universal bathroom in West Lafayette.

Posted: Jan. 8, 2019 11:16 PM
Updated: Jan. 9, 2019 8:24 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- Community members and Parks and Recreation Officials gathered Tuesday to discuss the details of developing a universal bathroom in West Lafayette.

The concept will be built in the city's new recreation and aquatics center, which is opening in 2020. Groundbreaking is expected to happen this spring. 

No layouts have been set in stone, but attendees were able to view some options of how the locker room and bathroom could be set up.

The idea is to allow both genders inside the same locker room facility and to not have separate men's and women's areas.

That means toilets, showers, sinks and changing areas would all be universal. Individual stalls would be able to be locked. 

Many questions were asked, and people also shared ideas and concerns they had with the project. 

News 18 spoke with people who were both on board with the universal bathroom idea and those who are still processing it.

Nick Schenkel, Director of the West Lafayette Public Library, attended tonight's meeting to get some ideas for a future remodeling project for the library.

"We want to make sure our facilities reflect the needs of the community as much as we possibly can," Schenkel said.

Schenkel said he's impressed with the plans. 

"It's a very good concept, it's perhaps even overdue in terms of being implemented," Schenkel said. "And what a fantastic time to do it."

Michelle Robson is an Otterbein resident who said she and her family often visit the Lafayette area. Robson is considering getting a membership for the recreation center, but said she will look for a different facility to attend if the locker rooms are not separated "in one form or another."

Robson's main concern is to protect her children. 

"Myself, personally, I don't want them seeing undressed people of the opposite sex," Robson said. "And I don't want other people seeing my kids of the opposite sex that are undressed." 

The West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department is still taking input from the community. This recreation center will be the first in the state to have universal bathrooms.

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