OLD ORCHARD BEACH (AP) – For years, a dilapidated restroom at the foot of the town pier has provided relief for beachgoers. That will end if the town gets its wish to raze the building near the site of the $20 million Grand Victorian condominium and retail project.

The town has sent an eviction letter to restroom operator Paul Golzbein.

Town Manager Jim Thomas said Golzbein never should have been given carte blanche to operate the facility for years without paying rent or obtaining a business license.

Golzbein, who owns the pier, claims his deed to the pier grants him a “lease in perpetuity” to the bathroom concession with about a dozen toilets.

Caught in the middle of the standoff are thousands of summer tourists, many of whom are grateful to pay 25 cents to use Golzbien’s restroom, and business owners who fear they’ll be overrun with by tourists seeking alternative toilets.

“The bathroom has to stay,” Golzbein said. “I mean it’s a necessity.”

The developer of the Grand Victorian, Tim Swenson, said he believes there are sufficient public and private bathrooms to meet tourists’ needs.

Swenson said Golzbein had offered to sell him his interest in the bathroom several times, but that he believes Golzbein is no position to bargain. “He doesn’t own it. He has no title to it,” Swenson said. “It’s just totally crazy.”

Golzbein said the town’s stance shows favoritism toward a high-end project at the expense of businesses more representative of the town’s recent past as a blue-collar resort.

Thomas said the bathroom never should have been put where it is because it’s built near sand dunes. He also said the pay-to-use restroom also runs up against a recent change in town policy to stop charging fees for public toilets.

Jim Albert, who runs the Patio Pub on the pier, said something has to be done if the restroom closes because private businesses will be overrun. “We’re talking hundreds a day, we’re not talking one or two,” he said.