Veteran with disability asks for accessible bathroom option at local parks

Posted at 8:31 PM, Nov 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-09 20:31:09-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- A Colonial Heights resident, and veteran, said he appreciates the city providing one port-a-john at each of their six parks but pointed out there needs to be a handicapped accessible option.

The city has a contract for six port-a-johns, four are used only during the winter months, when permanent facilities are shut down due to the cold weather.

"When they close down the facilities during the winter time, they put out the port-a-johns with no consideration for anybody with disabilities,” said the veteran, who asked not to be identified.

Two other port-a-johns are used year round since the city doesn't have permanent facilities at those locations.

"It's a real concern for myself and for others" the veteran said, and  added"I don't think they are intentionally breaking the law, I just think there's no consideration".

Unintentional or not, the city is not in compliance with the American's with Disabilities Act.

"So as odd as it seems, port-a-johns is an activity of state and local government and they are not compliant if they are not providing accessible port-a-johns," said Colleen Miller, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center of Virginia.

Miller says the city doesn't have to provide two port-a-johns at each location, just one accessible for everyone.

"I would hope it's easily correctable,” she added.

Others who frequent Colonial Heights Parks agree.

"I think if they're going to have one, it will be better to spend the extra money and just have one that's accessible to the variety of people who come out here,” said Kevin Nevetral.

CBS 6 took the concerns to the city.

"Obviously we're going to be compliant with the laws and at the end of the day we'll be responsive to the needs of our community,” said Criag Skalk, Director of Recreation and Parks.

Skalak said the city has been providing the port-a-john service for years, but he had never personally heard about this concern.

Advocates said sometimes ADA laws can be hard to understand and offered two links for those looking for more information: the US Department of Justice at or the Disability Law Center of Virginia, here.