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NYC Government Spends $2 Million on a Park Bathroom

Overspending is what government does.

Did you see the $2 million dollar bathroom? That's what New York City government spent to build a "comfort station" in a park.

I went to look at it.

There were no gold-plated fixtures. It's just a little building with four toilets and four sinks.

I asked park users, "What do you think that new bathroom cost?"

A few said $70,000. One said $100,000. One said, "I could build it for $10,000."

They were shocked when I told them what the city spent.

No park bathroom needs to cost $2 million. An entire six-bedroom house nearby was for sale for $539,000.

Everything costs more when government builds it.

"Government always pays above-average prices for below-average work," says my friend who makes a living privatizing government ahctivities.

  • Obamacare's website was supposed to cost $464 million. It cost $834 million and still crashed.
  • Washington, D.C.'s Visitor Center rose in cost from $265 million to $621 million.
  • The Veterans Affairs medical center being built near Denver was projected to cost $590 million. Now they estimate $1.7 billion

Government spends more because every decision is tied up in endless rules. Rigid specs. Affirmative action. Minority outreach. Wheelchair access. "The process is designed to prevent any human from using judgment, or adapting to unforeseen circumstances," says Philip Howard of the government reform group Common Good, adding, "The idea of a commercial relationship, based on norms of reasonableness and reciprocity, is anathema."

But New York City's bureaucrats are unapologetic about their $2 million toilet. The Parks Department even put out a statement saying, "Our current estimate to build a new comfort station with minimal site work is $3 million."

"$3 million?!" I said to New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, incredulously.

"New York City is the most expensive place to build," he replied. As a result, "$2 million was a good deal."

I pointed out that entire homes sell for less. He said, "We built these comfort stations to last... Look at the material we use compared to that of a home. These are very, very durable materials."

They have to be, he says, because the bathroom gets so much use. "We're going to expect thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of visitors... So we have to build it to last."

Yet not far away, Bryant Park has a bathroom that gets much more use. That bathroom cost just $300,000. Why the difference?

Bryant Park is privately managed.

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  • Necron 99||

    But, Muh Roadz!

  • Longtobefree||

    Next shocking expose - ice is cold.

  • dantheserene||

    Toronto update: The staircase was destroyed by city workers last Friday.

  • Texasmotiv||

    How much did the demo cost?

  • DaveSs||

    He didn't pour concrete or sink posts into the ground. Just treated wood sitting at grade, so it wouldn't have lasted long.
    Still pouring concrete should have added maybe another 500 to a 1000 tops.

    The city's new estimate is around 10,000 which is still insane for a short little pedestrian stair

  • IceTrey||

    To be honest it was a shitty staircase barely better than the muddy path it covered.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    So a local citizen installed a staircase himself.

    Cost? $550.

    $550 is pretty expensive for a single lesson.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Especially one you're trying to teach to a superhumanly psychopathic collective entity that is fundamentally incapable of learning.

  • Tionico||

    Actually, his investment of $550 is what jacked the stupid recalcitrant gummint uffishuls into doing it
    "their way at their pay" sooner rather than five years from now, and for ONLY $10K instead of their projected half mill. SO, this private citizen has the last laugh.. his piddly half grand forced the chitty gummint off their thick ends. Its a wonder they haven't laid charges against him for some tommyrot like trespass, violating public policy, destroying public property (digging up the slope to chip out the stairs)

    Yup, this old codger has the last laugh. HE singlehandedly served the community by lighting off the fuse that lifted gummint off their thick ends.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    $2M. That's it?

    Nobody really speaks up with the other government theft, so why now?

  • Bruce Majors||

    this time it's really shitty.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    One needs to start somewhere.

    Seriously; this crap goes on and on. Saying "it's always this way" is no way to stop anything. We need to tell our would-be Betters that we notice when they waste our money. We need to keep after them to whatever degree we can. No, individual call-outs may not have much effect. But keep it up, bring it to the attention of your family members that still believe in the Magic State. Spread it around. Make it harder and harder for The Usual Suspects to steal the elections.

    Maybe we'll never get anywhere, but when I was first becoming interested in politics it was widely assumed that Gun Control would effectively ban all handguns and most long guns by the mid 1980's.

    Nope.

  • Red Twilight||

    Because corporate subsidies are cool

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Twit dead thread-fucking......again. Fuck off, twit.

  • Butler T. Reynolds||

    Muh commodes!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Toronto's government estimated that a tiny staircase for a park would cost $65,000-$150,000.

    So a local citizen installed a staircase himself.

    Cost? $550.

    Did the bureaucrats thank him? No. They say they will tear his staircase down.

    Well, he didn't ask permission and follow orders first. If he had, it would have cost a lot more $550. And I bet that thing isn't even up to code. He should just be thankful they didn't summarily execute him.

  • mtrueman||

    One way government saves money is to used prison inmates to collect litter. Using the unincarcerated for this work, even illegal aliens, would be much more expensive.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    So your example of government thriftiness is the only form of slavery still legal in the United States?

    If you're still wondering why people don't take your contributions seriously, stop.

  • mtrueman||

    "So your example of government thriftiness is the only form of slavery still legal in the United States?"

    Yes it is. And I don't see anything frivolous or trivial about it. Maybe you prefer whining about governments using union labour to whining about whining about governments using slave labour. After all, you're a Libertarian, right? Not an Anarchist.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    When you make assumptions, you make an "ass" of "u" and "mptions."

  • mtrueman||

    I'm just going by what you said. How can we be expected to take seriously someone who raises the issue of using slave labour when everyone else is whining about union labour.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    There's only a couple of lines in the original article that even mention unions, and the only person who brought up unions in the comments is you, which is about as far from "everyone" as it's possible to be. I'm beginning to suspect that you don't know what you're talking about at all.

  • mtrueman||

    "and the only person who brought up unions in the comments is you, which is about as far from "everyone" as it's possible to be."

    We all hate unions, especially public sector unions. Why pretend otherwise?

  • Tionico||

    that is not slavery. Nope. It is exacting payment for a debt owed. It is the consequence of breaking society's rules.

  • IceTrey||

    No, it's slavery it says so right in the 13th amendment.

  • MichaelL||

    But, they get room and board, (most likely 1000% better than what the slaves really had!) and access to showers and TV, everything to make them comfortable!...(;-P

    Calling it restitution might be more correct. But, what kind of restitution is that for messing with cannabis? Maybe the prisons need to start growing cannabis! They could make the inmates more manageable! Violence, in the prisons, would decrease. It would much more profitable than picking up trash. And, the guys would love picking up trash! You know. The obsessive compulsive things that seem to happen with cannabis consumption!?

  • IsReasonReasonable||

    A year ago I worked for a 500 person company that was acquired by a large, global, 60,000 person Fortune 300 company. I would argue that these issues are more a result of size than a question of "government vs. private industry." Stossel writes (without any supporting evidence): "Government spends more because every decision is tied up in endless rules. Rigid specs. Affirmative action. Minority outreach. Wheelchair access."

    I'm not sure what's wrong with making things accessible for people with disabilities. And large organizations are usually bound up in complex decision making processes, information silos, excessive rules and expectations, rigid testing and implementation schedules, committee reviews, etc., etc. Things that we used to do in an afternoon can literally take a month to find the right person, ask permission, be denied, change the request and ask again, get into the schedule for approval, testing, deployment, etc.

    It's funny and easy to blame the government, but it's dishonest.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Hayek called that the Knowledge Problem, and yes, it affects large organizations of ANY kind. However, market pressure and competition incentivize companies to find ways to at least somewhat mitigate those effects lest they drive the company out of business. Government bureaucracies have no such incentives to deal with the Knowledge Problem at all.

  • ||

    I'm not sure what's wrong with making things accessible for people with disabilities.

    You're suffering from your own lack of knowledge, biases, and/or shitty management/conditioning. The specification was for stairs. Nowhere does it say that the site was inaccessible by wheelchair. Moreover, loads and loads of National Parks in this country have miles upon miles of trails and acres upon acres of land that are only accessible by stairs or less. Wheelchairs and/or the disabled are welcome but ramps would be destructive and/or cost prohibitive. Moreover, moreover specifications aside, there's no reason to assume that building problem solvable by a $550 or even $2000 staircase needs to be solved with no less than a $65-100K ramp/stair contraption. A $1000 ramp can generally solve the same problem(s) that a $1000 stair can, this isn't transdimensional rocket surgery.

  • Rhywun||

    The disabled are agitating for what will likely be trillions of dollars of upgrades required to bring the NYC subway up to full ADA compliance - 50 or so stations out of 400+ are currently accessible. Meanwhile we're already subsidizing personalized services for them to the tune of 90% or so, and in my twenty years of riding the subway I have seen maybe three wheelchairs. There is just no cost/benefit analysis being done here, because at the end of the day it isn't FAIR that they don't have the exact same access as everyone else.

  • ||

    It's funny that you mention this. I just got back from a flight and I'm befuddled by the large number of empty wheelchairs sitting around any given airport.

  • Longtobefree||

    Can't possibly be because the wheelchairs can't get into the stations you use?

  • Agammamon||

    And its very likely they don't need to as pretty much every city of over half-a-million people heavily subsidizes transport that caters specifically to the disabled. As in you can't use it unless you are, it provides door-to-door service on call too.

  • Tionico||

    Face it. Life ain't FAIR. Some folk are only five foot naught and a quarter in height, others are six foot sixteen. Both have advantages and disadantages. One can sleep sideways across the back seat of my van, the other won't even fit lengthwise in the seven foot floor area behind that seat. Does that mean government need to subsidise the motel costs of the taller one who can't sleep in the van?

    Get real......

  • Longtobefree||

    Don't go giving them ideas - - - -

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "It's funny and easy to blame the government, but it's dishonest."

    No, it isn't. Century after century, Government has proven to be necessary but untrustworthy and wasteful. Saying that government is not these things is like, at this late date, saying Marxism does not strongly tend to result in mass murder and misery; there is goddamned little evidence to support you.

  • mtrueman||

    "Government has proven to be necessary but untrustworthy and wasteful. "

    Maybe you'll get lucky, one quick car wreck and you find yourself confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Bet you'd soon shut up about government efforts to improve wheelchair access.

  • Mark22||

    Maybe you'll get lucky, one quick car wreck and you find yourself confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Bet you'd soon shut up about government efforts to improve wheelchair access.

    I doubt it: having a life-altering accident doesn't turn someone into your kind of self-righteous prick.

  • DaveSs||

    I'm not sure what's wrong with making things accessible for people with disabilities.

    The problem is how ridiculous the requirements are.
    Ramps and elevators, are the obvious, but it goes deeper.

    Sinks, mirrors countertops...being just a tiny bit too high or low = big fine, and often costly a lawsuit from a lawyer that specializes in carrying a tape measure for the very purpose of finding the pedantic.

    Want to do a very small change to an existing structure that was grandfathered? Might have to spend many times the cost of the small change to bring it in compliance.

  • Tionico||

    it typically ain't the lawyer with the tape measure. Nope, they've usually got a few "victims" on retainer, have trained them to find such violations, they go out shopping and come back with a list of places and "non-compliant features" then sue. The laws desparately need changing. A mom n pop restaurant, running for forty years, can suddenl get destroyed because some "shopper" found a joint where the doorway was an inch too narrow... never mind the wheelchair fits just fine, but it's "not cricket" Rather than some notice to comply, thirty days' to deal with it or show cause why they should not (grandfathered exempted, etc) then once in compliance everyone goes home happy. No, they have to file a lawsuit, the expense of defending which breaks the business. The filthy lawyer get HIS fees, and the "victim for hire" gets his cut. What a nasty racket. And its far more common than most know.

  • ||

    It's not the wheelchair ramp, it's the cost of the "professionals" and "consultants" that go into putting this ramp in. It's the overbilling and bad bookkeeping practices that go along with it. It is impossible to escape the lack of conscientiousness when you are using "someone else's" money.

  • Tionico||

    In a private company that is successful and WILL LAST, there are always those whose tasks include making the decisions on silly things like construction of a loo. Most successful firms have a property management division, and within that division there are, or should be, individuals who's track record is proven, and who have blank ticket authority to make things happen. Tycpially the hardest part of any project building or altering anything resembling real property or improvements is getting the Mother May I Build It card from the local regime. Again, gummit have their ways of making what should take half an hour and cost two hundred bucks take six months and cost eight thousand.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    A lot of the rules corporations have are the result of regulations imposed by governments.

  • Juice||

    An entire six-bedroom house nearby was for sale for $539,000.

    In NYC? GTFO of here.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I guess "six bedrooms" is one way to describe an 800 square foot studio with three bunk beds in it...

  • ||

    In NYC? GTFO of here.

    It's been awhile since I've been to NYC but my understanding is that urinating in the streets for free is still well worth the gamble at either the $539K or $2M price points.

  • Rhywun||

    The park in question is located in an unfashionable area of central Brooklyn, so I guess it's possible.

  • Dillinger||

    better be one hell of a bidet.

  • blameline||

    Interesting thing about the Denver VA Hospital. With dollars adjusted for inflation, that VA Hospital will cost more than the Pentagon.

  • Devastator||

    Again because of ridiculous regulations and rigged contracting schemes

  • NoVaNick||

    I'm not surprised about the $2 million price of a new public bathroom in NYC-it is NYC after all and I'm sure they only used well connected contractors and union workers to build it. Better questions would be what they will pay for each roll of toilet paper ($50?) and the costs of cleaning all the piss and shit up off the floor.

  • Brian.bs||

    I was in a Candian National Park that had rebuilt the washrooms at tremendous cost to make them wheelchair accessible. Very admirable, if tremendously expensive. One small problem. The washroom was on an island. With no access for those in wheelchairs. But it was built to standards...

  • Radioactive||

    pontoons, all wheel chairs will now be equipped with pontoons...problem solved

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "I think everyone will understand that it will be more than $550," Mayor John Tory said. "We just can't have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that's what they would like to have."

    Well, the union workers won't get the work at a "living wage" which everyone seems to think they are entitled to nowadays, which is a given with government contracts, and the union itself will not be contributing to any campaigns based on said work. Turning a slippery slope into a set of stairs that disabled people may not be able to use? And what about diversity? He hired a homeless "man" so there certainly wasn't any concern about women in the work place, nor the much ballyhooed pay gap. And what about government suppliers, and minority preferences. Hell, he has single handedly set back social progress! This Astl guy is nothing short of an uncaring rouge, and he is lucky he wasn't charged for his lack of sensitivity to this project that is just way bigger than he is.

    "Just" a set of stairs, indeed!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Somebody needs to take Mayor John Tory aside and quietly break his motherfucking knees.

    Slaver.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I'm sure he's a lot like the commissioner Stossel interviewed, and would swear up and down about what a great deal it is and how they support labor and "engaged the public" yada yada; you could break his knees, legs, arms, and hands and he still couldn't see it any differently. sarc/on: Again, it is so much more than just a set of steps, you know. How else is the government supposed to make everything right if they can't profligately spend on projects? He would have to be a HATER to not see this! sarc/off

  • gaoxiaen||

    He's no Rob Ford (sadly).

  • zaphod||

    I worked for a Canadian owned company for a while. They built a LEEDS building with waterless urinals. But the plumbers union shut things down because regulations required a (union) plumber to connect up the water supply to every fixture. They solved the problem by running a water supply to the urinal but not connecting it up. I guess progress comes one foot of copper pipe at a time.

  • Radioactive||

    you have obviously missed the point...

  • Longtobefree||

    But I am sure, that for two million dollars, it has LED light panels and a keyboard at the doors so each user can change the designation from "men" or "women" to whatever they wish for the duration of their use.
    And I would expect that is is built to a specification that will allow it survive the 10 foot sea level rise that is coming in the year 2000 from global warming. As predicted in the 1960's.

  • Red Twilight||

    How much did Drumpf spend on the golf vacations so far, Stossel?

  • Radioactive||

    I think you're on the wrong thread, shit for brains...this is the libratarian thread....all Libras all the time...

  • Tionico||

    Better then re-privatising work government now pretend to do: let citizens take care of matters themselves. Most government agencies exist as make work/welfare programmes for the connected. WHY should anyone ever get paid $36/hour to push a broom?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because then they can pay $10/hr to the union that contributes millions to the politician that forced the $36/hr wage for broom pushers.
    Obvious!

  • IceTrey||

    This is why Cuomo is begging the Feds for train tunnel money.

  • mysmartstuffs||

    It's not the wheelchair ramp, it's the cost of the "professionals" and "consultants" that go into putting this ramp in. It's the overbilling and bad bookkeeping practices that go along with it. It is impossible to escape the lack of conscientiousness when you are using "someone else's" money.
    My recent post: Pixal Evolution Review
    My recent post: WP Content Ranker Review

  • mysmartstuffs||

    Interesting thing about the Denver VA Hospital. With dollars adjusted for inflation, that VA Hospital will cost more than the Pentagon.
    My recent post: FaazImageGrabber Review

  • aajax||

    Why not be honest and show a picture of the actual building instead of the one you show on Facebook?

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