POTSDAM — Retaliation is growing in response to Monday’s action by the village Board of Trustees ordering the removal of “toilet gardens” on seven properties as Frederick “Hank” Robar deliberates over how to comply.
“We haven’t hired any junk removal agency yet,” Mark Snider of Snider and Smith, LLP, Mr. Robar’s attorney, told the Times in an interview Thursday.
While Mr. Snider wouldn’t indicate what Mr. Robar’s response will be, assuming he does not comply with the village’s order, he expressed doubt that the village would reach out to find a middle ground to settle the dispute.
“The village board has set the timeline on this and the village board appears to have fairly well set the parameters for any resolution if there be one in that they haven’t wanted to talk,” Mr. Snider said.
The resolution passed by the board of trustees Monday instructs Mr. Robar to remove all publicly displayed toilets from his “gardens” in the village before Sept. 1. This comes after the village code enforcement office served Mr. Robar several notices over the prior months and a public hearing to contest those notices.
“While Clarkson respects freedom of speech and expression, the originator of the self-proclaimed toilet art protest has had ample opportunity to fully share an opinion on his issues of concern to the village of Potsdam through this format of expression and other channels. These displays do not reflect Potsdam’s true character as a tight-knit community that cares about its residents, businesses, cultural organizations, students and visitors. After years of comments from prospective employees, prospective students and their families, and other visitors about abandoned toilets in yards around town, which have negatively influenced their opinion of the community, we fully support the village of Potsdam’s Chapter 125 Junk Storage code on local properties,” Clarkson University Vice President of Marketing and External Relations, Kelly Chezum, told the Times in a statement.
Other community reactions have backed Mr. Robar, including an online petition started by Setcher Krywanczyk, of Brasher Falls, which has received over 780 signatures as of Thursday evening.
“I think it really gets to people because these Potty Gardens aren’t anything new or unheard of,” Mr. Krywanczyk said. “A lot of people grew up seeing them all the time, and with Potsdam being a college town with a focus on art I’m sure the college students are really passionate about it too.”
Village Administrator Greg Thompson did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday. He previously indicated he and other officials wouldn’t be commenting on the matter based on advice from the village attorney.