Parade highlights issues with lack of public restrooms, downtown merchant says

Three Rivers Brewery owner accuses city officials of being 'clueless' in email

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − A downtown Farmington business owner once again is complaining about what he says is the city's failure to address a longstanding problem − providing visitors to the district with a place to relieve themselves during parades.

Three Rivers Brewery owner John Silva said the issue came to a head again on July 21 when the annual Connie Mack World Series Parade took place on Main Street through downtown. The event attracted more than 1,000 spectators, but the city did not bring in any portable restrooms for those folks to use, leaving them to urinate and defecate in downtown alleys, Silva said − something he has complained about in the past.

Silva was so upset he sent a stinging email to Mayor Nate Duckett later that day to voice his frustration under the subject line, "When is this city going to wake up about parades?"

"How clueless is the City of Farmington when it comes to parades by not providing porta johns for those watching the Connie Mack parade downtown today?" Silva wrote. "Now someone can come clean up all the urine and human waste in the alleys, maybe you should do it!"

In an interview with The Daily Times, Silva said the situation that unfolded July 21 was not unusual.

Longtime Farmington resident and Connie Mack World Series parade grand marshal Carol May waves to the crowd during the parade in downtown Farmington on Thursday, July 21, 2022.

"They continually skip putting restrooms out for the public," he said, referring to other parades that have taken place in the district.

When asked to respond to Silva's email, no city officials were made available for an interview. But City Manager Rob Mayes provided an emailed statement to The Daily Times in which he indicated the city may act on Silva's complaints.

"Yesterday, I received a suggestion from a business owner to supplement existing facilities with portable toilets during parades," Mayes wrote. "I think that's a reasonable suggestion, and I'm taking it into consideration."

Silva − who owns and operates the Three Rivers Eatery & Brewhouse, the Three Rivers Pizzeria, the Brewstillery Lounge and the Three Rivers Taproom in the same block, employing approximately 65 people − said he never opens the doors to his businesses until downtown parades are over. That was the policy he followed during the July 21 event.

He said he views it as the city's responsibility to provide restroom facilities for downtown visitors during parades and said it's not the job of private businesses to do that.

Members of the Dallas D-Bat United Baseball team walk down the parade route on Main Street in downtown Farmington during the Connie Mack World Series parade, July 21, 2022.

"It's a simple thing to put out restrooms for people," he said. "I've written letters before."

In fact, Silva said he's been writing letters about the issue to city officials for 20 years, but his complaints have never been addressed.

That often leaves parade goers to so what comes naturally because they lack any other option, he said.

"People do go into alleys to defecate and pee," he said. "I've watched it happen."

Members of the Southern California Renegades pose for the camera as they walk down Main Street in downtown Farmington during the Connie Mack World Series parade, Thursday, July 21, 2022.

The Connie Mack World Series Parade presents an additional problem, he said, noting that the players involved in the event traditionally toss candy to onlookers as they ride floats down Main Street. With temperatures in the Farmington area reaching 100 degrees this week, the candy that goes uncaught by kids winds up making a sticky, gooey mess on the downtown streets and sidewalks, which recently were upgraded during the multimillion-dollar Complete Streets renovation, Silva said.

"We've got all these beautiful new flower pots, and they've got candy stuck to them," he said. "It's the never-ending problem of parades. People come downtown and watch, but they leave cups, candy wrappers and garbage."

Although Silva's email to Duckett didn't mention the candy issue, Mayes seemed to be aware of it, as well as the complaints about restrooms, in the response he wrote on the city's behalf.

"We understand that parades and other large events downtown can be a double-edged sword for businesses," he wrote. "On the one hand, there is the obvious benefit of increased exposure and foot traffic. Yet, it can come with vehicle traffic, road closures, trash and other less desirable impacts − specifically regarding restrooms for parades.

"Parades are generally only about an hour long," he continued. "The City-owned facilities are always open during events, and we appreciate businesses that show hospitality to downtown guests."

Silva said he wonders why the city didn't address the issue of providing restroom facilities when it shut down Main Street for a year to do the Complete Streets project.

"Exactly," he said. "They're trying to show it off by spending millions of dollars to make it look beautiful. But they don't spend any money to supply people with restrooms or clean it up afterward."

Silva said the city's failure to provide easily accessible public restrooms during the parade gives it a black eye at a time when it is trying to put its best foot forward for the out-of-town guests who visit Farmington for the tournament.

"Connie Mack is a tradition in Farmington," he said. "If you're going to bring people in from out of town and ask them to spend money here, have the courtesy to provide restrooms. They do it for other events, but for some reason, it's always missed (during parades)."

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.