City may open closed restrooms inside the Doughboy MonumentLong unused restrooms inside the Doughboy Monument in Uniontown may be renovated and opened to the public again. The monument, with restrooms in its base, was built after World War I at the intersection of West Marine Drive and Columbia Avenue. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At Monday's meeting, the Astoria City Council directed staff to come up with a feasibility plan and cost estimates for reopening the restrooms, and to investigate alternative restroom sites. The information will be considered by the Astoria Development Commission. The project was suggested in a letter to the Council from Jim Wilkins, owner of Cafe Uniontown, and Rae Goforth, Uniontown's unofficial mayor.

"We have the only public restrooms on the national historic register," boasted Council

member Joyce Compere, whose district includes Uniontown.

Community Development Director Todd Scott and Parks and Community Services Director Kevin Beck will take a look at the facilities to see what condition they're in and determine whether or not they could be rehabilitated. It's possible that Astoria-West Urban Renewal District funds could help fund the project.

Scott said the doors to the restrooms are bolted shut. "We're not real sure when they were last used, but there was a lot of bad behavior associated with the facilities before they were closed," Scott said. "I have not been inside them and I don't have any clue what condition they're in." Scott said accessibility could be a problem, because it's necessary to go down several steps to reach the restrooms, and they may be very small rooms.

Scott said no one has expressed concern about the safety of the monument itself, if restrooms are reopened.

"The thought is if people are using them on a regular basis in the daytime, and they're being cleaned on a regular basis, that keeps additional sets of eyes on the monument itself," Scott said. And he said he's sure one of the recommendations will be not to keep the restrooms open 24 hours a day, which could invite vandalism.

If the Doughboy Monument doesn't work out as a public restroom facility, Scott said the city will look at other possible locations, such as the nearby Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce building.

In other business, the Council, with Blair Henningsgaard absent, approved an upgrade for the city's computer network, which will be funded by a $50,000 appropriation already budgeted. The Council also approved an additional appropriation for network support services and e-mail. Installation and services will be provided by a local firm, iFocus Consulting.

Dan Bartlett, Astoria's city manager, said the upgrade will improve security, file-sharing, and data backup both at City Hall and at the public safety building. The new system proposed by iFocus uses central servers, which are backed up and all of the disks are mirrored. "That means there's always a backup of the backup," Bartlett said. "You always have two copies of everything, so that if one hard drive fails, you've got a mirror of that, and there's a regular system of backups."

In the past, Bartlett explained, the city has had a peer-to-peer network, in which each computer daisy-chains off the next one, and each computer user is responsible for backing up his or her own hard drive. Even though many computers have backup devices built in, they don't always get backed up on a regular basis, he said. He said in one case, the hard drive failed on a computer with data that has existed since the 1980s, including Astoria's development code and comprehensive plan. Luckily, the city was able to get that hard drive restored and didn't lose any data, Bartlett said. "But it did serve as kind of a warning that we needed to take data security more seriously."

The Council also approved a proposal to borrow $64,000 from the Bank of Pacific to purchase a replacement IBM computer for the city's financial system.

Also at Monday's meeting, the Council heard presentations on the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial from Jan Mitchell and Cyndi Mudge, who are involved in state and local Lewis and Clark organizations. Mitchell asked the Council to think about its expectations for the upcoming Bicentennial year, 2005. "America's newest national park is happening in our own front yard," Mitchell said, referring to the Lewis and Clark National Historical park, which consists of several sites here in Clatsop County and in Pacific County, Washington.

In other business:

• City Manager Bartlett presented a status report on earth movement in Uppertown, which shows very little movement, which "is attributable to the effectiveness of the rock fill that was installed and in large part to reduced rainfall."

• Mayor Willis Van Dusen proclaimed today as 4-H Japanese Exchange Student Day in honor of a contingent of exchange students who attended the Council meeting with their sponsor, Melissa Padgett.

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