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March 22, 2012 8:12 am

EDITORIAL: Let's talk trash

Written by Ilene Olson

From the beginning, Powell city leaders have faced an uphill battle while trying to create a transfer station.

A transfer station is needed when the Powell landfill closes to household trash in September. It will help hold down city sanitation costs and limit wear and tear on garbage trucks by reducing the number of daily trips needed to haul the city’s garbage to Cody, they say.

First, the city faced opposition from the Park County Commission, which initially said a transfer station was not cost effective.

That objection was mitigated when the city received grants from the State Loan and Investment Board to help with the cost.

Then came the battle over where the transfer station should be located. The city first proposed putting it on city-owned property on Lane 9/Road 7. But that proposal was derailed by county residents’ objections, which prompted the County Commission to reject the city’s request to rezone the property.

Next, city leaders decided to locate the transfer station on two lots adjacent to the Powell City Sanitation Department. Those lots, recently purchased by the city, are in city limits and on land already zoned for industrial use.

While that seems to make a lot of sense, it also raises concerns and fears for residents nearby. During an informational meeting Monday, people living near the North Ingalls Street site for the transfer station voiced many of the same concerns previously heard from county residents living near the proposed Lane 9/Road 7 site.

They worry that the transfer station will be smelly and will attract flies and rodents, and that trash will blow around it.

But city officials say none of those will be a problem. The trash will be compacted in an enclosed, sealed trailer within a building.

“From the time it gets into your trash can in the alley to the time it gets to a landfill location, it’s all enclosed,” said Gary Butts, public services manager.

As for rodents, “Unless rodents are willing to band together and build ladders and ramps and learn how to operate electric hydraulic controls, they’re not going to be able to get in,” Butts said.

Residents cited concerns about the possibility of declining property values; city officials noted that the area already is zoned for industrial use, and they say the new transfer station with landscaping will be an improvement over what is there now.

Neighbors also said they worry about increased truck traffic in the area. But city leaders say there won’t be any more heavy-equipment activity there with the transfer station than there previously was when the property was used as a storage area for recyclables. Garbage trucks will make an average of three daily trips to the transfer station; one large truck will haul the garbage to the landfill in Cody.

While neighbors’ concerns are understandable, it seems many of their worries are unfounded, or at least overblown in proportion to reality.

There are no easy answers here. But it appears city leaders, faced with circumstances beyond their control, have found the best option available to them in their efforts to keep sanitation costs down while providing reliable trash pickup services.

We believe the city will strive to be a good neighbor to residents in the area. It’s time now to move forward with the project so the city will be prepared when the Powell landfill closes to household trash in September.

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