The proposed transfer station, enclosed in a building, would collect trash when the Powell landfill closes to household waste in fall 2012. A trash-filled compaction trailer would then be hauled to Park County’s regional landfill in Cody.
The planned September 2012 closure of the county-owned landfills in Powell and Clark and ultimate consolidation to one Cody landfill are results of new state water quality regulations; Meeteetse’s landfill closed in June.
After six years of “lots of talk, lots of talk and then lots of talk” with Park County, state legislators and other officials, Mayor Scott Mangold told the full house of about 40 gathered Tuesday night that the city of Powell decided a transfer station would be its best route for managing local trash following the landfill closure. Tuesday night’s public meeting on the issue came at the request of landowners in the vicinity of the city’s preferred site for a transfer station — 26 acres of city-owned property near the intersection of Lane 9 and west Road 7.
“We think we have a plan. It isn’t ironclad, I don’t believe,” he said, adding that it is a step forward that is getting nods from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Also on Tuesday night, after hearing more than an hour of public comment on the transfer station, the council unanimously approved a resolution to submit an application for a $652,502 grant to the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) for consideration at its June meeting. The grant would pay 51 percent of the estimated $1.27 million transfer station and operation equipment, with a city match of $619,654, or 49 percent of the cost. This spring’s application follows a $990,000 grant request denied by the SLIB last fall.
Powell city officials have said that, in the long run, a transfer station will help save money over hauling trash directly to Cody. Direct hauls would cause wear and tear on sanitation trucks not designed for highway miles, and the city would need to hire an additional employee, city leaders said Tuesday.
With a transfer station in place, Powell garbage customers would save roughly $1.1 million in the first 20 years, thanks to lower annual operating costs, said Gary Butts, city public services manager.
On Tuesday, residents questioned whether a transfer station would save taxpayers money, since it costs more than $1 million upfront to construct it.
“I think your numbers are way off,” said Mike Birdsley, who lives near the proposed site. He said with rising market costs and the size of a Powell transfer station compared to one in Glenrock, the project will probably cost closer to $2 million.
“You haven’t showed me where you’re saving the money,” said Clarence Anderson of Powell. “It’s mind-boggling to me. You act like $2 million is nothing.”
By using city-owned property near Lane 9 and Road 7 and completing work such as engineering in house, City Administrator Zane Logan said the city will save hundreds of thousands of dollars. He added that the city “feels confident with our numbers.”
“Our responsibility is first and foremost to the citizens and businesses of Powell,” Logan said.
Howard M. Johnson, CEO of Inberg-Miller Engineers in Riverton, presented how a transfer station would operate in Powell, based on a similar facility in Glenrock.
Completed in 2009, Glenrock’s $1.1 million transfer station has one compaction trailer for hauling and two “Transtors” — equipment that functions like a wheelbarrow, Johnson said. City sanitation trucks would unload trash in the Transtors, which would hold it and then dump it into the compaction trailer.
“It goes in that wheelbarrow and in that truck,” Johnson said. “There’s no chance of blowing litter.”
All of the equipment would be stored in an 80-foot-by-100-foot building.
“The transfer trailer itself is sealed before it leaves the building ... this is a very, very tight system from the standpoint of loose or blowing litter — it won’t happen,” Councilman Myron Heny said, responding to residents’ concerns about the appearance. (See related story.)
Mayor Scott Mangold told residents they would have more opportunity to voice their concerns as the project proceeds. Park County Planning and Zoning will consider permitting the proposed facility, and the decision ultimately rests with Park County Commissioners, he said.
City officials have met with Park County commissioners and leaders from Cody and Meeteetse several times in recent months to discuss the impending landfill closures and possibility of a transfer station. Commissioners David Burke, Loren Grosskopf and Tim French attended Tuesday night’s Powell meeting.
The city is willing to partner with the county to allow east Park County residents to use the transfer station for their waste, Butts said. In that case, the station must be manned. If the city of Powell uses it exclusively, then city sanitation workers will have the only access to the building and there won’t be a need for another employee to oversee the station.
Mangold said the city is trying to look ahead and consider future scenarios where the DEQ requires all trash to be hauled to a regional facility in Casper or elsewhere.
“We’re hoping it’s only Cody for now,” Mangold said. He added the city hopes Cody will be its regional facility for another 50 years or beyond, but “we don’t know what the DEQ will do in 10 years.”
With the impending closure of Powell’s landfill to household waste, the city is nearing panic mode, he said.
“It’s almost 2012. We’re getting close to our landfill closing up,” Mangold said. “We hope this is the solution for us to save the citizens of Powell money.”