Freeport-McMoRan Foundation supports the first phase of a long-planned Main Street Plaza project in Silver City, New Mexico.

February 19, 2019
Silver City Daily Press

The first phase of the long-planned Main Street Plaza project took shape Monday as a crane lifted Silver City’s brand-new public bathroom building from a tractor-trailer and set it on its foundation near the Big Ditch. “There’s been a lot of logistics,” said Mary Lucero, the Silver City MainStreet Project’s administrative assistant. “It’s taken a long time.”

The organization was able to purchase the building using funds from a $62,000 community infrastructure grant awarded last year. “We’re very grateful to the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation for funding our much-needed public bathroom,” said Silver City MainStreet Executive Director Charmeine Wait. Wait says the men’s and women’s ADA-compliant bathrooms will likely be open to the public in two to three weeks, once electricity and heating work is complete. The building was set to be plumbed immediately.

Hours for the bathrooms have yet to be officially determined. “Probably 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to start,” Wait said. “We don’t want people sleeping or partying in there.” Silver City Assistant Town Manager James Marshall was also on hand for the building installation, and told the Daily Press that a light on the back of the building will come on when one or both of the bathrooms are occupied. The light can be seen from Bullard Street, and will alert the town that someone is in the bathroom after hours.

While MainStreet paid for the building, the town paid for the construction of the foundation for the prefabricated structure, Marshall said. He sees the benefits of the town partnering with MainStreet to formally create a plaza downtown for events.

"I think the town needs a space like this for events,” he said. “There will be less road closures on Bullard and Broadway — we have at least 20 closures per year currently — which are not popular with some businesses. This way, we will be able to keep the streets open and commerce flowing.”

Much of the area in the vicinity of the bathrooms will continue to be used for public parking, which is at a premium in the downtown. Eventually, vendor spaces will be located along the Big Ditch, and the whole plaza area will be landscaped to include a new retaining wall, flood control, benches, improved lighting and even fruit trees, according to Lucero.

 Town Manager Alex Brown confirmed the second phase of the Main Street Plaza project would get underway this year, and will include improvements to parking and drainage. “We’re using about $70,000 in capital outlay money from the state MainStreet office,” Brown said, noting that MainStreet is the lead partner on the project.

The Main Street Plaza area is already used weekly by the popular Silver City Farmers’ Market, during the summer months. A market is also held in the Ace Hardware parking lot on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. The downtown Farmers’ Market will begin its 2019 season — with the added luxury of on-site public restrooms — on May 11.


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