A lone porta potty continues to stand sentinel at the Gardner Municipal Airport, greeting the estimated 26,000 visitors per year.
During special events, such as fly-ins, the city increases the number of portable toilets to serve the crowd.
The airport’s interior bathroom is closed due to a failed septic system. Michael Kramer, director of public works, said he was unaware of any other Gardner residence or building currently using a septic system.
The city appears to be in violation of their own ordinance, which requires property owners to either connect to a sanitary sewer or provide a “water-flush system to be built or rebuilt, constructed, and maintained in such manner as to meet the requirements of construction and maintenance hereinafter described. “
Although the city only recently took over operations of the GMA, they have owned the property for decades.
At a June city council meeting, Kramer said it would cost $135,000 to connect to the city sewer, and that the project was currently unfunded.
“This ($135,000) is a rough estimate, and therefore conservative,” Kramer said later. “It contains a grinder pump station, electrical, 67 feet of boring, 1,325 feet of force main and connection to the existing city sewer system at 174th Terrace and Kill Creek Rd.”
Even after being pumped, Kramer said the septic system had failed during high rains.
“The system has failed in the past,” Kramer said. “Airport patrons report that during times of heavy rain, prior to the city assuming operational control, the system failed indicating that it was saturated with storm water. The system is located in an area that does receive a large amount of storm water runoff, is near to existing playground equipment, and the existing shelter house. The usable area for the lateral field does not meet the city requirements.”
Kramer said an underground holding tank could be considered as an option until attaching to the city’s sewer is funded.
“With the closing of the restroom, and providing the portable facility, we believe we are reducing the public health risk,” Kramer said.