If you need a dose of serenity – off of busy Union Road, no less – Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca is hard to beat.
Lovingly tended flower gardens contrast with untamed flora and fauna in the 29-acre park, bordered by the waters of Buffalo Creek on one side and residential Race Street on the other.
But what if nature should call while you’re enjoying your sojourn?
Public restrooms are inside the Burchfield Center, whose days and hours of operation are limited. Otherwise, two portable toilets are at the entrance – during warm-weather months only.
“If you happen to be in the park when the building isn’t open, you’re out of luck,” said Paula Minklei, a center volunteer.
“We get a lot of kids coming down in the park ... people who walk their dogs,” said Minklei. “They avoid the ‘porta-potties’ as much as they can.”
It has cost the town more than $30,000 during the past 10 years to rent the units, said Town Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan.
At the eastern end of the parking lot, a concrete block footing encloses a 15- by 24-foot area for which a combination 1.5-story restroom and storage building was designed in 2006, but never built.
Town officials renewed efforts this year, with a budget of approximately $125,000.
But when the first round of bids came back in May, base prices ranged from $289,000 to $350,000. After modifying the design and seeking new bids, the range for the bids opened in July ranged from $265,000 to $327,400.
“We really didn’t budget for that kind of money,” Meegan said. “No one expected those numbers to be as high as they were.”
“There isn’t any way to strip a considerable amount of money from this project,” architect Brian J. Kulpa of Clark Patterson Lee told lawmakers at a work session last week.
Between the first and second round of bids, changes to the design included removing ornamentation.
Now, the town is having Kulpa research prefabricated units that could be finished by town employees.
Because the site is in a flood plain, additional foundation work is required. Storm and sanitary sewer connections and electrical service are needed.
Kulpa mentioned that a low-end prefabricated unit, with two unisex stalls, has a base price of about $29,000.
“They are not going to blow you away in terms of aesthetics,” Kulpa said.
And that option would not include the storage space the town seeks.
Minklei, the volunteer at the center, said maintenance equipment is stored on the other side of Union Road, in garages behind the Christian Metz House, one of the town’s historical landmarks.
“This is a five-lane, heavy-traffic state highway. It’s just not ideal,” she said.
Councilman Eugene P. Hart Jr. hopes the restroom project also solves the storage problem.
“That would be nice, if the storage is feasible, to do it all at once,” Hart said.