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February 09, 2012 8:42 am

Transfer station: Commission says it will help with different spot

Written by CJ Baker

Powell city officials won’t be able to build a garbage transfer station where they wanted to, but they’ll move forward on the project somewhere else — and Park County commissioners say they’ll lend aid.

“We’ll have to take a step back and try to find another area, I guess,” Powell City Administrator Zane Logan said Wednesday morning.

Logan said he did not believe that moving to a new location would jeopardize the $752,502 of State Loan and Investment Board grants that have been awarded for the roughly $1.43 million transfer station project.

City officials had looked at four spots and concluded that building on a city-owned piece of Lane 9/Road 7 property was the best. Neighbors, however, disagreed, leading to the commission’s rejection of the city’s plans on Tuesday.

“Now the real work starts with how to get the transfer station to work in Powell with a different piece of property,” said Commissioner Loren Grosskopf after the 3-2 vote, pledging help.

Residents speaking Tuesday, while opposed to the proposed location, asked county commissioners to work with Powell officials.

Commissioners have no plans to offer a place for residents to take their household trash when the Powell landfill closes to that waste in September. The landfill is expected to remain open to dry trash known as construction and demolition materials, but if the county takes no action, the hundreds of rural residents who now take their household garbage to the Powell landfill will need to hire a private hauler, take their trash to a different landfill, such as Cody, or find another means of disposing of their waste.

“If the decision is made to grant this location, I would urge the county commissioners to work with the city of Powell and find some way that the county residents can use the transfer station to help alleviate illegal dumping, because the whole eastern part of Park County is going to have a problem,” rural resident Mac Black said.

“I live in the county, so if I have trash, what am I going to do (when the landfill closes)?” asked Joey Darrah, a Powell attorney. Since state grant money is going to be used on the city of Powell’s transfer station, “it should be for everybody,” he said.

The city plans to use the facility only for its garbage trucks, eliminating the need to staff it. Citing concerns that a station is not cost effective — and a reluctance to get involved in hauling garbage — the county has declined to be a part of the project.

While the possibility of joining forces with the city was mentioned Tuesday, commissioners appeared far from getting on board. Grosskopf said people want cheaper options, but when the landfill closes, “there is no cheaper way anymore.”

With the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality pushing toward regionalization and Powell’s soils proving significantly more expensive to dig and line than those at the Cody landfill, commissioners have felt they had little choice but to move toward closing the site in Powell and converting Cody’s landfill to a regional one.

“They (Powell) kind of got a raw end of the deal,” said Commission Chairman Tim French. Meeteetse’s landfill was closed in the summer of 2010 with no roll-off bin provided and Clark’s also will close this fall. The county provides a roll-off bin in Crandall.

The county has offered the city a site across from the current landfill on Road 5 to potentially house Powell’s transfer station. The more than 230-signature petition urged the city to build there.

“There’s one place for this to go — that’s the existing dump site,” said resident Mike Birdsley.

City Engineer Sean Christensen said the property across from the landfill is far from the needed three-phase power and has too steep a grade. It’s also a couple miles farther from town than the rejected site.

During the meeting, French suggested the county could use state consensus money to help bring in three-phase power. He also noted that commissioners have discussed Powell getting a discount on its tipping fees — with Cody residents effectively paying Powell a subsidy. The rationale is that, if Powell took its garbage elsewhere, it would mean roughly 10 percent higher rates for the rest of county.

“What happened with that?” asked French of the subsidy talk. “Because we had left that, I believe, in the hands of Powell and Cody to work that out. Is that an option or not?”

“Cody said they weren’t interested in subsidizing Powell,” answered Powell Mayor Scott Mangold. In a Wednesday interview, Mangold said he thought “it would take the commissioners to actually do something (with subsidies) or take that leadership.”

After the meeting, French also floated the possibility of buying Powell a new garbage truck to haul trash.

“We’ve got to get this thing done,” Commissioner Joe Tilden told Christensen after the vote. “Let’s come up with a plan, let’s work together.”

Christensen said the Sept. 18 closure date is fast approaching.

Editor's note: This version corrects Mac Black's name.

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