MAHOMET – Some things only get better with time: fine wines, Rembrandts and outhouses.
If you agree with the last part of that dubious statement, you need to get on eBay and put down a bid on one of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District's 24 cedar privies.
The commodious commodes have only been listed on www.eBay.com.for a little more than a day and the bidding's up to $41 per structure.
One snag: You have to pick them up yourself. But the forest preserve district will take care of filling in the pits themselves, says Jerry Pagac, the executive director of the district and the guy who came up with the idea to sell off a bit of pre-plumbing history.
The eBay ad reads:
ýThis item is available for pickup in Penfield Ill., approximately 20 miles northeast of Champaign/Urbana.
ýThis outhouse had been situated for the past 30 years in a quiet county forest preserve and now with a little of your imagination and a little TLC it could be yours for many more years.
ýSome ideas that come to mind would be a garden tool/planting storage shed, a building placed near the pool for a changing area or a chemical/pool tool storage shed, or the best yard ornament on the block! The dimension of the structure is 5' x 6' with wood siding and shingled roof. There is a Plexiglas window, hinged door and a small porch area on the front.ý
Pagac expects the bidding to go far beyond $41.
ýThe bidding doesn't really get interesting until the last hour,ý he said Thursday.ý
Each of the outhouses is almost identical; the main distinction is those at Lake of the Woods are painted; the other are left natural cedar.
ýThey're at least 30 years old,ý Pagac said. ýWe never got around to putting a crescent into the door.ý
They are marked with signs for men and women.
Pagac said the district is getting all new restrooms coming in a month.
ýWe've already started replacing them. Most are out at Middle Fork,ý he said. ýIt's just a matter of filling in the pits with dirt.ý
Pagac's decision to sell surplus online started last March.
ýLast year we sold all of our surplus on eBay,ý he said. ýThe first time we tried to sell an old bookmobile that had not been used in 10 years. We ended up selling it to a guy from New Mexico for $1,600, close to what we paid for it. The guy took the train from New Mexico and trucked it back.ý
Selling on eBay reduces costs, Pagac said.
ýWhen the service yard had old equipment, we had to wait for there to be enough surplus to make it worthwhile to hire an auctioneer. Since we have a number of preserves, we have to bring all the surplus together. By the time you move everything and you pay your auction fees, it's expensive,ý he said.
The district has raised $32,700 on eBay since March 2006, said Mary Beck, personnel assistant/risk management assessor for the district.
The district manages 3,500 acres at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, Mahomet; River Bend Forest Preserve, Mahomet; Homer Lake Forest Preserve, Homer; and Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, Penfield.