Fort Funston fans might not have to hold their collective breath any more now that antiquated and odorous portable toilets there are being replaced with permanent facilities.
Since the 1970s, the only bathrooms available to serve the 560,000 annual visitors to the 141-acre park have been three portable toilets in the parking lot. Now the Golden Gate National Park Service wants to dump them, said NPS spokesman Rich Weideman.
Steve Rodrigues of the Fellow Feathers Hang Gliding Club said he’s been using the portable facilities for about 15 years and, like everyone else, he tries to avoid them. But sometimes it’s inevitable.
“Sometimes nature calls and you don’t have much choice,” Rodrigues said. “They get a lot of use and occasionally, there’s a severe storm that will actually blow them over.”
The NPS is still ironing out the details of the new facilities, and will submit the plan for public comment with the intention of starting construction by the end of next year.
So far the plan is to build a 540-square-foot structure with flushable toilets and waterless urinals in the northeast corner of the parking lot — opposite from where the portable toilets are now.
The NPS is examining three options for wastewater treatment: to tie into The City’s sewer system, to expand a leach field used to remove the hazards from the waste, or to reuse water through a compostable toilet system — which Weideman calls the “greenest.”
This is not the first time the park service has entertained the idea of upgrading the restrooms.
The initial plan for toilet facilities was proposed in 2003 but was shot down because the park was not as popular back then, Weideman said.
“Now there’s more foot traffic and a really strong user group out there — hang gliders, dog walkers — we just decided it would be better to have a bathroom,’’ he said.
Chris Cornbill, a hang gliding instructor at Fort Funston, welcomes the idea of a more permanent bathroom facility at the park.
“Sometimes I have to warn people beforehand,” Cornbill said of the portable toilets. “People have been using those Porta Potties for a long time.”
Fort Funston isn’t the only park where bathroom upgrades are planned. Stinson Beach is also in line for permanent restrooms, but that construction won’t start until after ground is broken at Fort Funston, Wiedeman said.
Fort Funston by the numbers
1900: Year the land was acquired by the federal government and called the Lake Merced Military Reservation; it was to be used in defense of the Bay
1917: Year the fort was named for Major General Frederick Funston
1963: Year the fort was inactivated
200+: Height in feet of some of the dunes at the park
Source: The California State Military Museum and the National Parks Service