It came as a surprise to Chatsworth Island residents when Clarence Valley Council closed the village’s public toilet, however, two weeks later they are praising the council’s prompt action in reopening the facility.
The toilets were closed on Friday September 18 and, by Monday September 27, Chatsworth general store proprietor Glenn Lazenby had a petition containing 112 signatures.
“As you would be aware, Chatswood General Store and the surrounding Hall, Church and Local School are all [part of] a very popular tourist destination,” he wrote in an email to the council.
“Travellers and the general public of all ages come into my shop every day asking for a toilet.
“In the past, I have directed them to the public toilets.
“Since the closure of the toilets I have been telling them that there are no toilet facilities available, a large contingent of these people are elderly.”
Neighbour to the toilet, which is attached the community hall, Robynne McKerracher, also wrote to the council, pointing out that the riverside destination was popular with tourists.
“Save the brickwork of the toilets and the riverbank from smelling like a urinal,” she wrote in capital letters, followed by multiple exclamation marks.
She also pointed out that the community had “heard the reason for the closure is that the [septic] trenches are not working correctly.
“Why weren’t they done years ago when every other property in the village was made to do theirs,” she asked.
On Wednesday September 30, the mayor, Richie Williamson, had responded to Ms McKerracher, concurring that it was an “important matter”.
“I … understand the issue is around the trenches and evaporation areas (which I am told is small),” the mayor wrote. “
Mayor Williamson also wrote to the council’s general manager, asking him to review the situation.
“I’ve asked the Council [to] explore all options in regard to opening the toilets ASAP,” he wrote, “I’ve also asked to be kept up-to-date on the progress.”
Mr Lazenby was happy about the prompt outcome.
“The mayor got behind it straight away, within 24 hours of receiving an email,” he said.
“The resolution is such a positive; the council took note and realised the community was in uproar about it and solved the problem.”
Use of the area has grown recently, too, due to highway upgrade workers and the construction of a crematorium on Chatsworth Road.
The hall is sometimes used by people holding post funeral gatherings.
The store has been given a key to the toilets.
“Customers come in every day and ask for a key – we can now make sure it’s open,” Mr Lazenby said.