GREENWICH VILLAGE — What a relief!
The Parks Department has opened new public restrooms in Washington Square Park, nearly two years after shutting down the old bathrooms to replace them.
The long-delayed new bathrooms, budgeted to cost $6.5 million, were greeted with relief when they opened early Monday evening, as park-goers said they were pleased to have an alternative to the porta-potties that were placed in the park during construction.
"I used to beg NYU and be like, 'Please, my son has to go!'" said Chi Yun, 41, who was at the park Monday with her 4-year-old son.
Another mom said she let her daughter urinate behind trees in the park while the bathrooms were closed, but she was concerned that at age 5, her daughter was getting too old to do so.
The bathrooms, housed in a modern, gray-tiled building on the south side of the park near Thompson Street, were originally supposed to open in summer 2013 but were delayed.
The Parks Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the reason for the holdup.
While bathroom-goers marveled over the spacious, clean facilities on Monday, some worried that they would soon deteriorate.
"I give 'em two weeks before they're a total mess," said Mark Pines, 65, who comes to the park every day to feed the squirrels and play guitar. Pines uses a wheelchair and said he was grateful that the new bathrooms are accessible.
"It's a great bathroom and I hope it lasts," he said. "It's up to the park rangers."
The hours of operation at the old bathroom had been reduced because of safety issues in 2011, but the new bathrooms will return to the old hours, operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a Parks Department spokeswoman said.