WILLARD -- A former Willard Bay State Park manager says the place he once called home is in need of a tuneup.
Roland Bringhurst managed the park for 14 years -- from 1994 to 2008 -- and said last week that since he left, the park has been faltering in several areas, most notably, a lack of public restrooms.
Bringhurst said that in 2001, a major renovation of the facilities began at Willard Bay.
The three-year, $6.5 million project consisted of 16 new restroom facilities with flush toilets in all of them and showers in seven.
Three of the restrooms were designed and built for year-round use, but now they are being closed during the late fall, winter and early spring and replaced with portable restrooms.
Current Willard Park Manager James Morgan said the restrooms must be closed during the colder months because the heating system is not running efficiently.
"We're trying to do what we can," Morgan said, "but we're having problems keeping them heated."
Morgan said that in order to compensate for the closed restrooms, he has brought in the portable units.
"In previous years, the rest-rooms had just been closed with nothing there for our visitors," Morgan said. "But now at least we've brought in porta-potties."
Wayne Monroe, who managed the park immediately after Bringhurst until 2012, first instituted the policy of closing the restrooms.
Morgan also said that in recent years, as funding has been slashed across many state organizations, keeping the restrooms closed during the winter season is also a cost-saving measure.
But Bringhurst said that rationale doesn't add up.
"It costs money to bring in the portables and install them," he said. "To me, it makes the most sense to fix the restrooms that are there. I mean, these are relatively new facilities that are just sitting around unused."
Bringhurst said the park's annual Christmas light display compounds the issue.
The park began featuring a Christmas light display that was built by Brigham City residents Sonny and LeAnn Gilbert in 2003.
Bringhurst said that during his tenure, the park saw an average of 40,000 visitors during the time the drive-through light display was up.
"When you have all those people coming through the park, you need proper restrooms," he said.
Bringhurst said he and some other interested parties are currently raising money to outfit the restrooms with new heating systems.
"I think the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation has forgotten about the visitors and has focused instead on ways to increase revenue," Bringhurst said. "And that's just a shame."