East Hawaii News

MacKenzie Park Bathroom Back in Operation

January 31, 2014, 2:28 PM HST
* Updated February 3, 2:39 PM
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The sorely needed new bathroom at MacKenzie State Recreation Area in lower Puna is back in business.

Opened in early April 2013, the bathrooms were closed several weeks later after someone stole the solar panels and other equipment needed to operate its composting mechanism.

A closeup of the raised and barbwire-reinforced solar panel. Photo by Dave Smith.

A closeup of the raised and barbwire-reinforced solar panels. Photo by Dave Smith.

Engineering and construction of a theft-resistant replacement added $200,000 to the cost of the project.

The solar panels that were previously mounted on the roof of the new bathroom building are now sitting atop a metal pole approximately 35 feet in height. It has an array of barb wire below to discourage would-be thieves.

And the composting mechanism itself located at the bottom of the building is sporting significant reinforcement that includes a locking bar across the doors.

The new bathroom replaces pit toilets constructed in 1938 that were described in a permit application as being “in dire need of replacement.”

Photo by Dave Smith.

Photo by Dave Smith.

A composting-type toilet was required because constructing an underground septic system is problematic so close to the shore, and solar power was needed because electrical service is not available nearby.

Located along Route 137, also known to local residents at the Red Road, the remote park features an ironwood forest and a rugged coastline, with waves pounding onto and often spraying above its high cliffs.

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