Celebrating the Peli-can

Town installs its first public latrine

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

People in Pelican now have another place to go.

The 163-person community on Lisianski Inlet 70 miles west of Juneau recently installed its first public toilet. Although it's already in use, the new facility will get its official grand opening Friday.

The timing is right because it's the first day of Pelican's Boardwalk Boogie, a folk festival that attracts hundreds of people from Juneau and other Southeast communities.

Installed near the boat harbor, the toilet is an improvement worth celebrating, said Mayor and City Administrator Kathie Wasserman.

"There's going to be wine and cheese served at the top of the ramp and there's going to be chamber music," she said in an interview earlier this month. "I think I'm going to have wine served in little specimen cups."

Pelican, a fishing town with occasional state ferry service, is mostly built on boardwalks. With no public rest rooms, residents and visitors had to use facilities in the restaurant and bars - or head to the shore or woods.

Some Southeast waterfront towns, such as Tenakee Springs, have had end-of-the-dock outhouses for public facilities, leaving the flushing to the tides. But Pelican's new can is plumbed, built and hooked into the city wastewater system with the help of a $25,000 state matching grant.

Wasserman tried to get U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican who has helped get money for rural sewage systems through Congress, to attend Friday's grand opening. Stevens sent out a press release saying he couldn't make it, but would try out the facility next time he's in town.

Other officials were invited, and Wasserman said she's sure the celebration will feature a few speeches from dignitaries.

And who will that be?

"Anyone in Pelican's a dignitary," she said. "Anyone who wants to talk about a toilet."

Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at eschoenfeld@juneauempire.

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