San Juan County opens Orcas Island’s first year-round public shower

Eastsound has officially expanded its list of public amenities to include a shower.

San Juan County facilities manager Greg Sawyer unveiled the Village Green’s new restroom and shower facility during a dedication ceremony on Dec. 3.

The $280,000 project, which was a renovation of the existing bathroom building, was funded by an LTAC grant and capital improvement money from the county. While the idea dates back a decade ago, construction started this past February. There are four new all-gender bathrooms and a coin-operated handicapped accessible shower.

“I’m excited to be at the conclusion of this lengthy process,” said County Councilperson Cindy Wolf.

Also in attendance were staff members from the county parks department, Orcas Community Resource Center, Orcas Community Foundation and OPAL Community Land Trust.

The parks department oversees the maintenance of the Village Green and its buildings. The project was completed by ACI Construction out of Sequim, Wash.

“We had clearly reached summer capacity with the restrooms,” Sawyer said. “The shower is kind of an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.”

The bathroom doors are electronically controlled and are only open from morning to evening at which point they auto-lock. Orcas deputies have keys to access the restrooms in case of an emergency. The renovation also includes a storage area for supplies and a portion of the roof is “green,” meaning it has soil and sedums planted on it to reduce runoff.

The resource center has been anticipating the unveiling of the new washroom and has towels, soap and quarters available in its office for anyone in need. The shower cost is 25 cents for three minutes of hot water.

“You can pay for as much hot water as you want because it’s an electric, on-demand water heater,” Sawyer said.