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County narrows down transfer station sites

September 14, 2017

The county discussed three top sites for a new waste transfer station at a community meeting on Wednesday — a cement plant site off of I-90, a site at Bowers Field Airport, and a site on Tjossem Road.

From 60 prospective locations, the county narrowed the list to three final sites. The estimated cost to build a new transfer station could be $10 million to $20 million, with the cost of private property acquisition undetermined. The Bowers Field site will come with an estimated $82,000 per year lease from Kittitas County.

Roughly 30 citizens attended the meeting at the Armory to voice their comments and concerns about the country’s final sites. Attendees were provided forms listing 13 secondary criteria in selecting a new site — including its impact on traffic, wildlife, taxpayer costs, and historical sites — asking them to choose their top three.

Ellensburg resident Mitch Williams said that the sites’ economic impact on the undeveloped land adjacent to three sites should have been included in the form more clearly.

“My concern is the economic impact,” Williams said. “It’s hard to say that all that garbage going in and out it’s not going to have an effect on businesses in the area or that are going to spring up in the area.”

Williams echoed sentiments by other attendees that property devaluation could be a major issue for commercial sites that spring up near the transfer station after its planned creation in 2020.

Kittitas County Solid Waste Director Patti Johnson said the issue will be studied further.

EXISTING SITE

Built in 2000, the 17-year-old Ellensburg transfer station on 1000 Industrial Way. Solid waste that is brought to the station is trucked to the Greater Wenatchee Landfill in Douglas County. Recyclable materials go to Waste Management’s recycling facility. The transfer station property is leased from the city of Ellensburg.

The site has had problems with flooding and limited space, and the station struggles to keep up with demand. At times, there are hour-long lines.

“The site can barely keep up with the people that live here, much less the people that are going to come here,” said EnviroIssues representative Penny Mabie. “And time is money for the people that haul their own trash here. The longer they’re standing in line, they’re not making money.”

Kittitas County has 42,500 residents. A study by BERK Consulting of Seattle last fall projected it could be 64,408 people by 2037 at 1.89 percent growth per year.

The Ellensburg Transfer Station serves people from Elk Heights to Vantage. The county also has a transfer station in the Upper County.

Johnson said that the county hopes to move its existing waste management facilities, built from transportable steel frames, to the new site, if possible, to save expense.

“Hopefully we won’t have to start all over again and we can keep most of the city’s existing facilities,” Johnson said. “The ones we have right now are steel and some of them should be able to be upended.”

OTHER PROGRAMS

Following the Legislature’s approval of a $43 billion biannual budget to satisfy the state’s education funding, the county has lost some grant money necessary to fund its recycling and hazardous waste handling services starting July 1 of this year. Johnson said that the county is still struggling to shore up the funds to reinstitute those programs.

“We know how important those services are to people,” Johnson said. “We hope to get them up and running again.”

To provide feedback to the country on the transfer station go to https://kittitascountytransferstation.participate.online/background. The website also has more information and maps of the proposed sites.

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