When Nature calls, you have to answer.
And that's the problem, say residents of the Fort Sumter House near The Battery, who complain that they've seen too much "answering" in public.
With the city of Charleston in the process of updating its Tourism Management Plan, residents of the seven-story condominium say it's time to offer more public restrooms for visitors in search of relief south of Broad Street.
"We have literally seen it all," said Beth Dixon, secretary for the Fort Sumter homeowner's association. She noted some visitors use the oak trees of White Point Garden and nearby areas, including parking spaces and out-of-the-way spots.
Some residents have allowed people to come in from the street, some of them ill, to use the closest restroom, she said.
"This is a public park," Dixon said. "It doesn't make sense that there aren't bathroom facilities."
And then there are the picnickers. "Especially with the nice weather, it's starting to ramp up," said Joy Jarvis, also from the Fort Sumter homeowner's group.
Locals for years have been sounding off on the need for permanent public restrooms in the area.
City planning director Tim Keane said the city has heard the complaints. "There's unanimous consensus that this is necessary," he said. "The problem is finding the space to create a secure site. "It's a bit trickier than you think," Keane said.
The city explored putting restrooms in the area around Murray Boulevard near the Fort Sumter House, and in the area of Hazel Parker Playground, but that didn't pan out.
"We are completely and openly in agreement that those restrooms are necessary," Keane said.
The city isn't receptive to putting a restroom in the gazebo area in White Point Garden. "We don't want the centerpiece to our most historic park to be a restroom," Keane said.
Fort Sumter residents say the problem is bad enough that finding a solution should be part of the city's tourism plan update.
A forum will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at 75 Calhoun St. to garner citizen input on the plan. The update is being led by the Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability with assistance from an advisory committee appointed by Mayor Joe Riley.
The committee began meeting in February and is expected to complete its work by the end of 2014.
Dixon said the matter needs to be addressed soon. "We have a very serious problem," she said.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551