ROGERS PARK — Neighbors say a small private parking lot used by residents across the street from Triangle Play Lot Park in Rogers Park has become a literal dumping ground for parkgoers who must find a way to relieve themselves without any public toilets.
Dan Tarver, president of the condo association at 7715 N. Hermitage Ave., said Triangle Park was frequently used by families and large groups often setting up camp for the day and partying. When it comes time to go to the bathroom, people using the park, like families or large groups, have nowhere to go.
That's when the parking lot comes into play.
Directly across from the park, the lot is tucked alongside a tight one-way section of Hermitage and a tall wall supporting the train tracks above, and it's shrouded by trees and plants. It houses fewer than 15 cars, but is the perfect safe haven for someone who needs to relieve themselves with some degree of privacy, Tarver said.
He said usually people will walk next to or behind a parked vehicle, squat and do their thing rather than traveling the two blocks south to any one of the businesses along Howard Street.
"It's been going on for years, and we just happen to have a parking lot there, and it's just the most obvious place to drop your drawers and pinch a loaf," Tarver said, laughing.
Linze Rice says neighbors have seen the behavior for years:
A view of the parking lot from Triangle Park, close to each other in proximity. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Tarver, who described himself as the "crazy trash guy" who was known to keep the area tidy, said he regularly encounters the worst kind of trash: Garbage that has poop on it.
He said people generally use fast food wrappers or other napkins to wipe themselves when they have no other options.
About a year ago, Tarver said he contacted Ald. Joe Moore's (49th) office for the first time. Tarver said Moore's office referred him to Chicago Park District employees at Willye B. White Park, which is responsible for managing the lot.
Chief of staff for Moore, Kevin O'Neil, said the issue of a toilet fell under the jurisdiction of the Park District.
O'Neil said he spoke with the park district's area manager Wednesday, who said because of the park's size and lack of a staff, she did not plan to install a portable toilet for "both safety and liability issues," O'Neil said.
O'Neil said the alderman's office had been working closely with the police and neighbors on the "illegal activity happening at the park."
Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a park district spokeswoman, said she was not familiar with the situation and was looking into the matter.
In an email exchange between Tarver, Moore, neighbors and Chicago Police Sgt. Shawn Sisk earlier this week, Sisk said to Moore that whenever he or other officers witness someone using the bathroom in the parking lot, they issue the person a ticket, and that officers regularly patrol the area.
While he did tell Moore he felt that the parking lot's users "could take measures that could prevent individuals from gaining access to the property," he agreed with residents that a bathroom might deter people from "finding alternative locations" such as the lot.
At a CAPS meeting Tuesday night, Sisk said he'd received a number of complaints from property owners and residents who had concerns about people exposing themselves, using the lot as a bathroom and "doing other things we can't say" during the meeting.
Called Triangle Play Lot Park, the sprawling open field is the park of choice for group gatherings every day. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
But Tarver said he didn't feel the residents should be responsible for paying to get their lot fully gated and locked, saying he felt the solution was an outdoor, public restroom of any capacity.
"It really shouldn't be our issue, I mean you can't have a park without an outhouse," Tarver said.
That sentiment was echoed by neighbor and owner of North Side Pets, Kim Chaudior, who said, as a resident at 7715 N. Hermitage Ave. since 2008, she's seen it all: People urinating and defecating in the parking lot and behind the building in the alley, either by themselves or with multiple people at once, at all times of the year.
Recently, she said she witnessed a confrontation between a woman who had been at the park and another neighbor.
The woman had been squatting down near a car and was tying up her pants after urinating in the neighbor's parking spot, which left a small puddle near the car, Chaudior said.
"Her exact phrasing was, 'B----, I pee where I want,' though I'm sure she'd rather be in a porta-potty," Chaudior said. "Setting people up to fail is a big problem with this park: You're inviting them here into the park, you need to have a bathroom. It just seems like a simple solution to me."
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