Port Angeles City Council member: Give landfill to county

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A City Council member wants Clallam County to take over its buried landfill, a portion of which is threatening to fall into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“I think it’s really clear, from my perspective, that a regional facility is the responsibility of the county, not the responsibility of one city,” Councilman Brad Collins said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The question arose during discussion of a $1.4 million contract with Seattle-based Anchor QEA to manage construction of the city’s upcoming $19.6 million effort to move decades of garbage back from the bluff at the west end of 18th Street.

Council members approved the contract 5-2, with Collins and fellow council member Cherie Kidd opposed.

“I question whether the city can afford to do it at this point,” Collins said.

Said Kidd: “I’m kind of in sticker shock when it comes to our landfill.”

Before the vote, Collins referred to giving the landfill “back to the county.”

Records show the city purchased the parcel of land that now contains the shuttered landfill in about 1947, City Engineer Mike Puntenney said, adding that so far as he knows, there was no garbage on the land then.

The landfill created by the city was closed to new waste in 2007.

Councilwoman Sissi Bruch asked whether it would be possible to give the landfill to Clallam County.

City Manager Dan McKeen said staff will research the possibility.

McKeen cautioned, however, that even if the city did proceed in that direction, “it’s not going to happen overnight.”

“I would envision a process that would take one year, potentially multiple years once you start,” he added.

Bob Martin, public works administrator for Clallam County, said county commissioners would have to approve taking the transfer station and defunct landfill off the city’s hands.

“I don’t think it’s very realistic to think that that could ever happen, frankly,” Martin said.

Mike Chapman, Clallam County board chairman, said he could understand why council members would ask whether the transfer station and landfill could be handed over to the county because of the amount of debt the city is preparing to take on for the project to fix the failing bluff.

“I’m not wildly enthusiastic about taking it over, but I can say the county would have a role if the city were to walk away from it. We would have to keep it open,” Chapman said.

McKeen said the problem still must be addressed no matter who operates the adjacent transfer station.

City staff hope to start this summer on the landfill work, which would move 265,000 cubic yards of buried waste back from the bluff to another part of the landfill and augment a seawall at the toe of the bluff.

City staff are preparing to issue municipal waste bonds to fund the stabilization effort without relying on a solid waste flow control ordinance proposed to county commissioners.

“We will be looking at this issue without flow control,” City Chief Financial Officer Byron Olson said Wednesday.

The proposed ordinance would have required that non-recyclable solid waste generated in the unincorporated area east of Lake Crescent be taken to the Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station.

That would ensure a steady stream of revenue and reassure bond-holders, city officials said, allowing a lower interest rate.

Without the flow control ordinance, Olson estimates the city will pay between $1.5 million and $2 million more in bond interest rates than if the ordinance were in place.

Chapman thinks it unlikely commissioners will take up the county flow control ordinance again.

“We heard from the public” at an April 8 hearing, Chapman said.

“They didn’t want it. At this point, a majority of the board considers the issue dead,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate the failure of the county to help us with the flow control ordinance will probably cost us $1.5 million and $2 million in interest rates,” Mayor Dan Di Guilio said Tuesday.

The city also will receive $3.9 million in financial assistance from the state Department of Ecology for the landfill bluff work.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, council members passed unanimously a $426,000 amendment to the city’s contract with design firm Herrera Environmental Consultants, which designed the landfill bluff stabilization effort.

The amendment brings the total amount to $3.4 million.

The amendment will pay for, among other things, Herrera’s work reviewing design submittals after the project is bid on and consulting on any design changes needed during construction, city officials have said.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 16. 2014 7:27PM
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