10.10.2013 1

The $578,000 modular bathroom

By Tom Toth

Brawner Farm at the Manassas National Battlefield Park puts a high premium on its bathrooms. Under the supervision of the National Park Service, the government has spent over $578,000 to erect a “comfort station.”

You read that correctly–$578,000–for a bathroom in a park.

Replacing the standard, plastic portable waste receptacles previously in the park, one could imagine these tax dollars were on a hand-built, beautiful “comfort facility” for the fine visitors of this park, right?

Well, no.1

Delivered in two modular pieces, this moderately-sized example of engineering mediocrity (complete with unsightly faux stone siding) sits two of each gender at a time.


Naturally, this fueled our imaginations. How far would $578,000 get you toward buying other toilet-rendering facilities in Manassas, VA?


For $575,0000 you could purchase this home, complete with 4 (admittedly fewer) bathroom installations, right down the street from the park in Manassas.

But let’s to take the search a step further. Away from the bloated Washington, D.C. metro area real estate costs, what does $578,000 look like?


Well in Omaha, Nebraska $550,000 will buy this prime piece of property (with plenty left over for a 6th bathroom).

How does the National Park Service turn a beautiful estate in Omaha into a portable potty in a Manassas National Park?

Well, in traditional government fashion, they paid for a 449-page report on the proposal–coupled aptly with a skimpy 90-page “Environmental Assessment for a Comfort Station at the Brawner Farm.”

But the real irony: Upon review of the proposal, the bathroom was built to accommodate the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Bull Run to be celebrated in August 2012. The facility was not open to the public until September of this year, missing its release date by 13 months. Expensive and too late to serve its intended purpose; sounds like a perfect government project!

Below are links to the itemized expense reports for the project:

Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government
Richard McCarty contributed to this report 

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