Around Haymarket (population 300) townsfolk never gave it a second thought. They knew there wasn't one, so most of them never bothered to look.

"Isn't it ridiculous?" said Haymarket Mayor Muriel Gilbertson. "I don't know why people have put up with it for so many years. Now you just run home if there's a problem... or wait until the council meeting is over."

It wasn't until last week that anyone spoke up about installing a bathroom in town hall, which includes an office for Haymarket's two full-time and one part-time police officers.

As construction began on a new town sewer system, the Greater Manassas and Yorkshire Sanitary District forced the question: Does Haymarket want a sewer hookup for town hall? The answer: Yes -- but that doesn't mean relief is on the way.

"The hookup is out in the street and it will cost $6 a foot to install connecting pipes once the new sewer system goes in this year," said Gilbertson. "Then it will be another year before a new water system goes in. I don't know when we will get a bathroom in town hall.

"Until now the town has been using old septic tanks. This is a very old town and a lot of septic tanks were falling apart," she said. "The stench in town was something awful. On a hot day you could stick your head out and smell it."

The State Health Department declared the town's water a health hazard and two years ago Haymarket received approximately $369,000 from a Housing and Urban Development grant to install a town sewer system. The town has agreed to pay about $36,000 toward the cost, including hookup fees for 90 homes. Construction is expected to take a year.

"Some of this water is pretty bad," Gilbertson said.