City officials, Towne Park employees and residents gathered around the public restroom at Noah Hillman Garage to announce it will now be open 24 hours a day.
"This is step one of a three-step plan to take the parking objection off the table for area businesses," Towne Park Founder and CEO Jerry South said.
His company built or renovated restrooms at all four city-owned garages, and each one has a unisex bathroom that's handicap accessible and open around the clock.
Step two for Annapolis' parking overhaul will be a marketing campaign designed to alert visitors and residents to the variety of parking options downtown. South's company will also manage the monthly parking and residential parking for the city's garages via one website: parkannapolis.com.
Step three, tentatively set to launch this summer, will be a free smartphone app called Park Annapolis that will give users real-time data on which garages have spaces available and at what price.
In addition to the parking garage bathrooms, the Market House will have renovated public restrooms when it re-opens. Mayor Josh Cohen said he will be opening those restrooms up to the public during midnight madness on Dec. 6 and 13.
"This is a long time coming," said Steve Samaras, owner of Zachary's Jewelers. "Not a day goes by that we are not asked by someone to use our restrooms."
Samaras has to say no to people because of security reasons—his products are mostly small and valuable.
"We have been lobbying for public restrooms for at least 10 years," Ward One Residents Association President Joe Budge said. "The visitors to our town have had no facilities outside of our stores or restaurants, and after hours it had gotten very unpleasant."
Budge said he's caught people relieving themselves beside trees, in gardens and down alleyways. He hopes the city and downtown businesses will advertise these new options, which are cleaned each morning.
Cohen joked that had the announcement been made a few weeks ago, the man he caught urinating off the garage's third floor in October might have known about the restrooms.
Budge isn't sure whether this will curtail public urination downtown, but at least he'll be able to point folks answering nature's call towards the garages.