One Man’s Fight Against a Pig House in a Park

New park toilet was designed by a California architectural firm to match the existing sewer pumping station shown above. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

December 6, 2012

Last Monday, Don Riley was taking his morning stroll down Monroe Avenue when he saw workmen pounding posts into the ground in Central Park just off Plum Street.

Riley asked what it was all about, and was told that the posts delineated where the new park toilet would be constructed. He further learned that the new building would be the same size, shape, and style as the sewer pumping station just up the sidewalk.

Riley was incredulous. And he was immediately concerned for the owner of 500 Monroe, whose magnificent home sides to the park.

Riley worries that when the owner next comes to town, she will be greeted by a view of a pig house in the park.

That’s the name Riley has given the new toilet, because it reminds him of the brick house built by one of the Three Little Pigs.

Riley said he walked straight to the mayor’s store to ask why a little brick pig house was going up in the park. Whose idea was that?

Mayor Dora Sullivan sent him to talk to Bob Panek.

Panek is the assistant town manager, but the park toilet project is not being managed by the Town of Cape Charles. Instead, it is being undertaken by Citizens for Central Park.

Panek also happens to be the president of Citizens for Central Park.


CCP received a $20,000 grant from the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation to install a park toilet. But the toilet was estimated to cost $35,000. So the town council voted to partner with CCP and contribute the needed $15,000.

No notice was given to adjacent homeowners because the toilets are a permitted structure in the park.

Riley wanted to know why the park toilet should replicate a sewer pumping station. According to Town Planner Tom Bonadeo, it’s to achieve symmetry on the east end of the park, with the sewer pumping station to the north and the park toilet to the south.

“The pump house is a mistake in the park. Do we want two mistakes?” Riley asked.

Because the toilet is being built in the Historic District, it must conform to the Historic District Guidelines, which state:

Look at surrounding buildings to determine their style, age, and the elements that help define the neighborhood’s special character . . . Choose a design that relates to the design character of the historic buildings in the area.

The chosen “surrounding building” that defines the neighborhood’s “special character” was the sewer pumping station.

According to Planner Bonadeo, the sewer pumping station was built in the 1980s and is not a historic structure.

Bonadeo’s staff report to the Historic District Review Board recommended “approval of the bathroom building design as it meets the compatibility requirements of the ordinance.”

The Review Board approved the plans for the brick toilet house at their December meeting.

Somewhat ironically, this was the same meeting where the Board turned down the glass balcony design for Hotel Cape Charles.

Riley says he is ready to circulate a petition to relocate or redesign the bathrooms.  “When you walk down Monroe toward the Bay the first thing you’ll see is the little pig bathroom house,” he said.




6 Responses to “One Man’s Fight Against a Pig House in a Park”

  1. Deborah Bender on December 6th, 2012 3:40 pm

    Today I drove by where the little “piggie house” is to be located and to say that I am appalled would be an understatement! What are the people that run this town thinking? The brick bathrooms will totally block the home across the street’s view of the park. Would town officials like to have that thing across from their houses, totally blocking their view? This is just another case of no one thinking about a resident’s view or feelings about having the park’s outhouse right across the street. A far better location would be next to the fence by the parking lot, but I guess Edwin Gaskin would not have liked that!

  2. Sandy Mayer on December 6th, 2012 6:31 pm

    It amazes me that one person’s remarks could inspire a headline like that.

  3. Wayne Creed on December 7th, 2012 10:35 am

    Thank you Donny! In a town that should be aware of vistas, views and aesthetics, I’m shocked they could even think of putting this thing at the end of Monroe, totally destroying the view and sunset for my good buddies at that end of the street. Then to mimic the design of the ugliest structure in town for “special character” or symmetry — what? Of course, the old school already has two wonderful bathrooms (yes, marble), yet through malfeasance and neglect, the public is unable to access them. $35,000 for this thing, and they can’t purchase a tube of caulk to stop water damage at the school?

  4. Sean Ingram on December 7th, 2012 3:18 pm

    I appreciate the concern of all the citizens in regards to town matters. I feel The Wave has become a simple and effective way to learn about local happenings as well as air our own personal views. I read The Wave often and always look forward to the public comment — for many reasons. That being said I would like to ask for the cooperation of the general public. When I heard news of the potential for bathrooms in the park I felt it my duty to do all in my power to assist. With a tight budget I set out to fit a round peg in a square hole. I was proud to hear my company was awarded the contract and looked forward to starting. Several of us showed up on site to stake out the corners and begin construction. To our surprise we were approached by several irritated residents. I would like to ask those involved in this newest controversy, pro and con, to please be respectful of the fact that I work at my customers’ direction. Neither myself nor my employees should be caught in the middle. Please refrain from approaching us on this matter. If I am asked by my customer to cease work I will do so and in turn I would then have my employees vacate the premises. Until such time I am bound by a contract to continue work. If anyone would like to discuss any part of the issue with me privately I welcome the conversation. Thanks to all in advance for your cooperation.
    — Sean Ingram

  5. Dana Lascu on December 20th, 2012 6:59 pm

    Awww, Sandy Mayer, “pig house” is just a cute name, and there is nothing devious about it – not like calling tumbled glass actual sea glass. Whatever it is, I hope it will not attract crime in our neighborhood.

  6. Deborah Bender on December 20th, 2012 9:25 pm

    Dana, This is so funny. For a long time I have thought that certain people selling “sea glass” were putting it into a tumbler. I guess it isn’t just me.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family !