One of the oldest structures in Prospect Park has been transformed into the city’s first composting restroom in a public park. The Wellhouse, which is the last surviving building at Prospect Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, recently underwent a $2.34 million conversion into a comfort station.
The project was spearheaded by the non-profit organization that manages the park (with the city), the Prospect Park Alliance, and the organization received funds for reconstruction from the New York City Council.
Built in 1869, the structure originally housed the mechanical equipment that helped pump water into the park’s water systems. When the Park was connected to the city’s water systems in the 1900s, this particular structure fell into disuse.
"After nearly a century, Prospect Park Alliance has restored a piece of Park history to public use," Sue Donoghue, the president of the Prospect Park Alliance, said in a statement. "Being able to provide more restroom facilities to Park visitors, while advancing the environment, is a win-win situation.”
What is a composting comfort station exactly? These types of toilets use 97 percent less water than traditional toilets and convert waste into compost, instead of sending it into the city’s sewer systems. Water collected from the sinks or drains in the toilet will be used to irrigate parts of the park, which will end up saving 250,000 gallons of water each year, according to the Alliance.
As part of the reconstruction effort, the exterior wall and the roof of the building were stabilized, and many of the historic design elements were restored. This facility now joins some of the nicest public restrooms in the city.