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Occupy Wall Street is Getting Bathrooms

One of the most contentious issues that's affected Occupy Wall Street's relationship with the surrounding community has been bathrooms. At multiple Community Board 1 meetings, downtown residents have complained that OWS' lack of facilities has lead to some pretty negative consequences, the grossest being some occupiers' using people's doorsteps as impromptu bathrooms.

Now, the neighborhood has scored a bit of a coup coming on the heels of the NYPD's recent removal of hated FiDi barricades: Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin have announced that OWS is getting three offsite bathrooms.

The release reads in part:

"OWS states that it has secured access to a loading dock area connected to 52 Broadway and has obtained three portable bathrooms to install there, with a trained security guard 24-hours-a-day. We appreciate their attention to this issue.

"We reiterate our call on the City to take a 'zero-tolerance' approach to public urination and other such behavior, and to enforce laws prohibiting excessive noise.

"The fact that both the City and OWS are making progress in addressing serious quality-of-life issues signals that there is a path for solving these and other emerging concerns. We strongly encourage the parties to continue to communicate and we ask that the park remain open and accessible for emergency personnel.

"As we have said before, these concerns must be solved but cannot be used as a pretext for the violation of First Amendment rights."

52 Broadway is also UFT headquarters and where Occupy Wall Street has storage space for protesters.

The negotiations for porta-potties have been going on for some time; the city originally didn't want OWS to have them onsite because of ambiguous safety concerns. Seems as though this is a neat compromise, though three bathrooms doesn't sound like a lot.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

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