|Sex in public restroom upsets Georgetown|
Residents want park made safe for their children
By KERY MURAKAMI
Andy Bookwalter complained for years about people having sex in the restrooms at the Georgetown Playfield near his house.
But the situation peaked in September, when somebody actually started advertising on Craigslist.
"Looking for fun in Georgetown," the post was titled. "Looking for someplace fun to get off with other men? Georgetown park bathroom between 11:00 a.m. and 1 p.m. is a great place. Hit me up if you would like to pick a time."
Another personal ad on a gay cruising Web site recommends the brick men's room at the playfield, which is at the end of Bookwalter's tree-lined street.
It's not the kind of thing he wants his two young sons -- 3 and 1 -- to walk in on someday.
Complaints about illicit activities in public restrooms aren't new. Downtown businesses say prostitutes and drug users looking for a little privacy sometimes use Seattle's automated restrooms.
But rarely is one actually advertised as a good meeting place for sex.
The brick building was locked up for the winter a couple of weeks ago, but when it is open, there can be a steady stream of men going in.
"You see a couple of guys walk up. One will go in, and then after a few seconds, the other will go in," Bookwalter, 39, said one day last week.
The ball fields, which are part of a $1.8 million renovation, will get artificial turf and new lighting.
Seattle Parks and Recreation planned a public meeting for this week to discuss the new lights.
It's ironic, said Bookwalter, who works at a furniture maker, that although there will be a new playfield, its restrooms won't be renovated.
He said he has called the park department over the past seven years to report the problem, only to be told to call police. The police, though, have higher priorities, so not much has been done, Bookwalter said.
But the park department has taken some temporary steps.
The city put in portable toilets before the restrooms were locked up. Bookwalter looked at the two portable toilets a few feet from the restrooms and just shook his head.
Park spokeswoman Dewey Potter said the solution is temporary. The department is working with police to deal with the problem once the renovation is finished in November.
She said Parks and Recreation also contacted Craigslist and had the ad removed.
Durin Gleaves, who lives on South Homer Street, near the park, said he hasn't walked in on sexual encounters. But he has heard from others who have, and he has seen "men loitering around these bathrooms, obviously waiting for someone."
In addition, he said, there has been "a significant amount of other unsavory people. I've seen open drug use in parked cars, abandoned vehicles that have become homes and a lot of dumping of garbage, appliances and other refuse. While there are several homeless that live in the park, this activity does not seem related to them."
Having a playfield where families can go is important now, Bookwalter said.
The neighborhood has changed in the past decade, drawing people because it was one of the last places where homes still were affordable.
When Bookwalter and his wife moved in eight years ago, there were only two or three families with children within two blocks of the park. Now there are six families with nine children.
"When we got here, couples would move away when they were going to have a child because no one wanted to raise their child here," he said. "Now people are staying."
Have you visited your states Hometown Forum lately?
Thursday is M4 Feedramps Day