O’Brien County Parks have push-button showers | New

SUTHERLAND—Campers heading to showers in O’Brien County parks will no longer need to bring change with them.

At its June 8 meeting, the county conservation board approved the removal of coin-operated showers from Mill Creek Park in Paullina, Dog Creek Park near Sutherland and Douma Park near Sanborn. All three parks have 13 shower facilities among them, and all are coin-operated.

“These things have kind of become a problem,” O’Brien County Conservation Director Travis Scott said. “They’re steadily dropping, and we constantly hear people say he’s eaten a quarter of them.”

The coin-operated system will be replaced by push buttons, to be installed in each shower cubicle. Instead of paying a quarter for three minutes of hot water, campers will press a button for a 30 second stream. The water temperature will be regulated to comply with safety rules, Scott said.

The change will reduce maintenance costs incurred by the coin-operated system.

“We were able to keep it operational, but it’s pretty regular that we have something going on them,” Scott said. “It’s a lot of maintenance.”

He also said revenue from coin-operated showers was quite minimal and was offset by the labor involved in the machines.

“The time it takes to empty quarters and count them — you watch 45 minutes a week, and we’re only bringing in about $60 a week through the summer,” Scott said.

Coin-operated showers in O’Brien County parks will soon be push-button. Campers will no longer have to bring their change with them to shower.

When a community member in attendance asked about the possibility of installing traditional shower taps, which can be turned on and off manually and allow for temperature control, Conservation Council Chairman Tom Konz said said the ability to leave showers on made a timed shower system necessary.

“We can’t do that, just because people will let them,” Konz said.

Scott agreed that a timed system was needed, but said he would investigate the possibility of a push-button system that would allow for temperature adjustment.

“I haven’t researched that yet, but there might be something where there’s a hot-cold adjustment with the push button,” Scott said. “It would be better because we get quite a few complaints as the temperature changes during the season and people want it to be warmer or cooler.”

According to Scott, the buttons could be installed on the side of each shower rather than the back, allowing campers to reach and press the button, then wait for the water to warm up before entering. in the shower.

Scott said he had experience with a push-button system when he was a ranger in Black Hawk County, and he said installing the buttons on the side provided a better showering experience. to campers and facilitated the maintenance of the shower.

Konz asked about the performance of push-button systems over time.

“I’ve dealt with these at many parks and never seen things go wrong with them,” Scott said.

Before a motion was made, Scott recommended installing the new push button system at all campgrounds in the county. The motion passed unanimously.

Installation of the new system will take place gradually over this camping season, beginning with the showers at Mill Creek Park, followed by Dog Creek Park and Douma Park.

Scott estimated the cost of the new system to be between $80 and $100 per shower. The cost of the new system and the loss of revenue from coin-operated showers will be passed on to the public in the next camping season in the form of increased rates.

“My thinking is a $5 increase across the board,” Scott said, though the rate increases haven’t been formalized and won’t go into effect this season.

A $5 rate increase would raise the cost of camping to $20 per night at Mill Creek Park and $15 per night at the other two parks.

“That puts us on par with the rest of the state, but we’d still be a bit below most places, especially for full hookup sites,” Scott said.

He said he was confident the public would benefit from the new shower system, and he did not anticipate many complaints about next season’s rate increase.

“We can explain that we made these improvements and removed the coin-operated showers,” Scott said. “I think people will understand and be okay with that.”


In other items on the agenda for the June 8 meeting of the O’Brien County Conservation Council:

  • The smoking policy for conservation employees was discussed. Manager Travis Scott said there was no official policy governing smoking in the employee handbook, but the department complied with the requirements of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. There will be no smoking signs inside buildings and shelters in parks and a designated area for employees to smoke during their two daily breaks located at Mill Creek Park in Paullina.
  • Monthly expenses were approved by the board, including the purchase of a $1,600 John Deere chainsaw, new toilets in the Mill Creek Park concession stand bathrooms, new electric locks with code entry in cabins at Mill Creek and materials to renovate the sign at the entrance to the Prairie Heritage Center near Sutherland.