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New recycling center receives zoning OK

A new site for Powell’s recyclables could be up and running by August, if all goes according to Powell Valley Recycling leaders’ plan.

Part of that plan fell into place last week when Park County commissioners unanimously approved a special use permit to allow Powell Valley Recycling to move to an expanded recycling center at a location just across the street from Powell’s western water tower. Commissioners are quite familiar with the Road 10 location, as it used to house the county’s Powell-area road and bridge shop.

Powell Valley Recycling, whose current recycling center is located across from the Park County Fairgrounds on North Hamilton Street, would ideally move into the new location in mid-July. But realistically, “if we get in by the first of August, that’d be really nice,” said Powell City Councilman Myron Heny, who serves as the city’s liaison to the non-profit recycling group.

Heny said Powell Valley Recycling has already received bids for the reconstruction of the building, painting and electrical work. Now, he said, those bids are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose rural development arm is helping finance the project with a $127,000 loan and $68,000 grant package.

Powell Valley Recycling purchased the building from the county at a net cost of $120,000 (a 50 percent discount from its appraised value), and plans to spend roughly $100,000 renovating the 7,200 feet of space. The sale closed in March.

“It looks like we haven’t done anything, but working with the federal government as you well know ... involves jumping through a lot of hoops. And then you have to jump through the hoops again,” Heny told commissioners.

In the process of selling the building to Powell Valley Recycling, the possibility of the new location becoming a hub for the region’s recycling — including Cody’s — has been mentioned.

Heny said it was too soon to begin talking about the possibility of integrating the city of Cody’s recycling operations.

“We’ve got to get open first before we really sit down and visit with them,” he said.

Another project discussed during the meeting was a better use for glass that’s brought to the recycling center, “because people want to recycle glass,” said Powell Valley Recycling Manager Mary Jo Decker. Currently, the glass brought to the Powell and Cody recycling centers is crushed and used to cover trash at the Powell and Cody landfills.

“That’s some usage, but that’s not a real good usage for it,” said Heny.

The reason for not recycling is economics. The closest place that buys glass for recycling is in Colorado — and they pay only $35 a ton.

“It’s going to cost more than $35 a ton to ship it to Colorado,” said Decker.

While Powell Valley Recycling has been talking with the town of Basin about the possibility of renting a rail car that could take the glass for recycling, Heny and Decker said getting that set up would likely take time and be expensive. A solution suggested by Heny is to have the county and city governments require future roads to include a set percentage — say 3 percent — of local crushed glass, something that’s been done in other states.

The new center will have nine parking spaces for customers. Decker said that would be plenty given that it’s a drop-off center. The traffic to the site is expected to be similar to that of the road and bridge shop. Powell Valley Recycling currently employs eight people.

No members of the general public attended last Tuesday’s public hearing. One anonymous letter was submitted in advance, raising concerns as to whether the facility would meet state and federal regulations.

Though that comment was “fairly benign,” commissioners indicated they give less weight to anonymous comments.

“If they don’t have the guts to put their name to it, I’m not going to put much credence to it,” said Commissioner Tim French in response to a reporter’s question about the subject.

Powell Valley Recycling will continue to operate at 535 North Hamilton St. until the move.

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