“Given the cards we’ve been dealt, this seems like our best option at this point,” said City Administrator Zane Logan on Tuesday.
Until recently, it wasn’t an option at all. In January, the city purchased two lots adjacent to the sanitation department from Powell Valley Recycling for roughly $45,000. That acquisition increased the city-owned land at the site to 60,000 square feet — or nearly 1.5 acres.
Powell Valley Recycling had used the land to store recyclables, such as cardboard and aluminum cans. The site should not be confused with the old recycling center across from the fairgrounds. That building, located on Hamilton Street and owned by Park County Boys and Girls Club, now houses The Gym.
The Powell landfill is slated to close to household waste in September, and the city’s trash will need to be trucked to the regional landfill in Cody. With a transfer station, city trash trucks will simply dump their loads into a sealed trailer inside the station, and when it’s full, the bin will be hauled to the Cody landfill. City leaders have estimated that having a transfer station will mean making one trailer haul to Cody a day instead of three daily trips with city sanitation trucks.
The city’s plans for a transfer station hit a roadblock last month when Park County Commissioners rejected a request to rezone city-owned property near Lane 9 and Road 7. That rezoning was necessary for the city to build a transfer station at the rural site.
With the preferred site off the table, city employees started examining other possibilities.
“We said we’re not going to give up,” Logan said. “And when that land deal came about, we thought, this is an opportunity that’s maybe meant to be.”
Originally, the intent was to use the land as added space for the city’s sanitation and streets departments, said Gary Butts, city public services manager.
“As it turns out, it was a good investment,” he said.
City councilmen discussed the land purchase with Powell Valley Recycling last fall, and the deal was finalized in January.
“By the time the land was officially available to purchase from PVR, it was obvious that there was going to be an issue with county approval for the necessary zoning and special use permit,” Logan said.
County commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the city’s request on Feb. 7.
As city staff have looked at alternate transfer station sites, the property adjacent to the sanitation department “is looking more and more feasible,” Logan said.
For starters, it’s owned by the city. It also has three-phase power and other city utilities — something a proposed site at the current Powell landfill lacked. It’s also already zoned for industrial use — unlike the rejected site at Lane 9 and Road 7.
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality officials have given the site a cursory nod, but as part of the process for DEQ approval, the city is hosting an informational public meeting on the proposal. That meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, at City Hall.
Logan said city leaders want to explain to neighbors in the vicinity and other local residents what the proposed transfer station will look like and how it will function.
Logan said a transfer station — consisting of equipment stored in an enclosed steel building — likely will mean few changes for people residing in the area.
“In the industrial zoned area, the activity will be very parallel to what’s been done there for years — it’s the exact type of function and activity that’s been going on there,” Logan said.
The city also would do landscaping at the site.
“It would be a nicer, cleaner building than what was there,” Logan said. While folks may initially assume a transfer station is like a landfill, he said that’s a misconception.
“We care about making it look right and being sensitive to our neighbors, whether in town or out of town,” he said.
A downside to the Ingalls site is an elevation issue, Logan said. He compared a transfer station to a split-level house. A truck drives into the upper level of the building and dumps its contents into a compaction trailer on the lower level.
The Lane 9 and Road 7 site was a better set-up for a two-level building, but Logan said engineers will analyze the possibilities of this site. The city also will look at customized transfer station equipment that could help alleviate elevation concerns.
Though smaller than the rural location, Butts said the proposed city site has ample room for a transfer station.
“One acre (43,560 square feet) is more than enough for a typical site,” Butts said.
The city has more than that available, with 60,000 square feet adjacent to the sanitation department, plus contiguous city-owned property, Butts said.
“The rural site was bigger, but had the county commissioners wished to partner with the city, it would have been needed space,” he said.
The State Loan and Investment Board has awarded $752,502 in grants to pay for the roughly $1.43 million transfer station. The city notified SLIB officials of the new potential site and their approval remains valid, Butts said. DEQ officials and the Powell City Council also must approve the site.
The earliest the city could start on the project would be in the fall, Logan said.
It will take time to purchase the equipment, and the DEQ approval process could take from six months to a year.
“We know the clock is ticking on the Powell landfill,” Logan said. “Obviously, we’re trying to get going as soon as we can to reduce the number of months we have to direct haul somewhere.”