Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Million-dollar public restroom opens near Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber leads the way into the new public restroom after cutting the ribbon to signify its opening.

Staff at the Visitor’s Center near Santa Fe Plaza say the most common question they get is “Where’s the nearest restroom?” They used to send visitors to the La Fonda hotel, but that changed last week with the opening of the city’s first public restroom downtown.

City Councilor Signe Lindell joined Mayor Alan Webber on the steps of the new facility about a block south of the plaza and told the small crowd on the sidewalk she’d been thinking about the project since 2014.

“It looks easy doesn’t it? There were a few meetings about this,” Lindell joked.

Eight years and $1.1 million later Webber cut a red ribbon and officially opened the doors to 20 stalls and a gender neutral family restroom in time for the fiestas and art markets coming to the city center this summer.

Webber said the restroom was a boon to a vibrant downtown. “A public restroom is essential. It is long overdue. We get 2 million tourists a year. Obviously our own residents delight in coming downtown to the plaza.”

There’s also an office onsite for the city’s tourism department to distribute guides and maps.

Facilities Division Director Sam Burnett said the restroom ran into pandemic delays and increased costs. He said the new construction even required a call to archeologists when excavators found remnants of a very old power station buried underground.

Webber also touted other capital projects like a new teen center under construction on the city’s south side, the Bicentennial Pool, which just underwent renovation, and investments in playgrounds and tennis courts citywide.

The newly opened downtown restroom is at the corner of the municipal parking lot at 100 E. Water St., behind the Five & Dime General Store.

This report is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

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