Matt Thurman, Carrie Hill, Patrick Daverson, Gail Chuy, Sabrena Smedley, Norma Nelson, Steve Garland and Joe Wingate, from left, stand by a road-roller near East Hamilton Middle/High School's soccer and baseball fields. The site will soon have a new 174-car parking lot. (Staff photo by Myron Madden)

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East Hamilton Middle/High lays groundwork for sports field additions

East Hamilton Middle/High School will soon say goodbye to the last two porta-potties stationed on the school's athletic fields.

After getting the green light from county officials, the Hamilton County Department of Public Works is currently working on plans for new restroom facilities at the sports complex, as well as gearing up to replace the gravel parking lot by the school's baseball and soccer fields with a paved lot able to hold 174 cars.

For years, school officials say, the portable toilet units on the soccer and baseball fields have been an eyesore for the community, especially since their placement makes them easily visible to drivers entering the school's campus.

"We have a very nice school, but gravel parking lots and porta-potties don't give a very good first impression," said Principal Gail Chuy. "So having parking that is decent at the front of the school and not having porta-potties as soon as you drive in will be a really nice thing for us."

Aside from aesthetics, the portable units have been problematic during games and tournaments, when hundreds of players, parents and spectators flock to the fields, coaches said. When the soccer, baseball and softball teams all have games on the same night, baseball coach Steve Garland said there could be around 300-400 people in the vicinity.

"The practice is not a big deal, but you get 100 people using one porta-potty, and at night they fill up pretty quick," said Patrick Daverson, head coach of the men's varsity soccer team.

Hamilton County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley, who represents the area, has long been working to replace all the portable units at the school's athletic complex with permanent restroom facilities. Over the last few years, Smedley allocated a total of $119,000 in discretionary money to help fund construction of the joint restroom and concessions facility that recently replaced the porta-potties at the school's football field.

"We're just indebted to Commissioner Smedley and [Hamilton County] Mayor [Jim] Coppinger and school board member Joe Wingate and everybody else who's involved in this," Garland said. "The support that we see from them is obvious, and it just makes a huge impact for our students and our community."

The remaining two porta-potties will be replaced with two restroom facilities: one at the soccer field and one by the baseball/softball field. Smedley said planners chose to build two facilities to keep students from having to cross the roadway separating the fields, potentially causing a safety hazard.

Neither restroom facility will have an attached concession stand like the one installed on the football field.

Funds for the facilities will come out of the county's Public Works Department, Smedley said. County Engineer Todd Leamon said cost estimates for the restrooms have not yet been determined, adding that costs, possible locations and schedules for construction are still being reviewed by the Hamilton County Board of Education.

County officials say they hope the restrooms will be complete in time for the spring sports season.

Leamon said construction of the $80,000 parking lot should be completed within the next four to five weeks.

Email Myron Madden at