Paine Field gets trash site

County will move Everett transfer station to airport from river location

By Warren Cornwall

Herald Writer

Paine Field, home to Snohomish County’s main airport, will soon become a temporary home for much of the county’s trash.

The county’s Public Works Department announced plans Thursday to move one of its three transfer stations from near the Snohomish River in Everett to the southern end of the county-owned airport.

With the decision, the county dodged a confrontation with the city of Everett and northeast Everett residents. Those groups had opposed other possible sites closer to the river and to established neighborhoods.

"I’d say the location was the top thing (behind the decision)," said Jeff Kelley-Clarke, the county’s solid waste director.

The new facility should relieve a space crunch at the current station, ease long lines of people waiting to drop off trash, and get the county off land the city of Everett has wanted back. The county already owns the Paine Field land.

Transfer station’s new home

Where: Paine Field near Airport Road south of Everett.

Why: The county has outgrown the Everett facility on 36th Street near the Snohomish River.

What happens there: Trash and recycling products are dropped off. The trash comes from Everett south to the northern end of Lynnwood and east to Snohomish. It’s packed into containers for shipping to Eastern Washington.

How much trash is processed: 132,000 tons per year, growing to 200,000 in 2010.

Cost: $15 million to build.

Opening date: January 2003 at the earliest.

Other county transfer stations: Two others, in Arlington and Mountlake Terrace.

The new $15 million transfer station could handle up to 100 tons of garbage a day when it’s expected to open in 2003, Kelley-Clarke said. On weekends, the number of spaces open to individual dumpers could rise from the current eight to 20. By 2009, it could attract 500 vehicle trips every day, according to a county environmental study.

Trash from garbage collectors and individuals will be packed into giant metal containers at the station and driven to northeast Everett. There they would be loaded onto trains and shipped to a massive landfill in Eastern Washington.

Steve Rigdon, a building contractor who makes weekly trips to the transfer station, welcomed the prospect of an end to the 20-minute waits that usually greet him.

"If it’s not in my backyard, I like it," he said.

That’s why the decision should please northeast Everett residents, said Marian Krell, who works with neighborhood groups as director of the city’s office of neighborhoods. The county’s earlier consideration of a northeast site had sparked an outcry from residents.

But she said some hoped the loading station would move as well. County officials say that’s not planned.

"I think there still is some concern about the containers all going through there. But I’m sure they’re greatly relieved to know the transfer station won’t be going in where the residences are so close," she said.

One person’s relief, however, is another’s disappointment.

"Would you like to hear how mad we are about it?" asked Dolores Blust.

She and her husband, Ken, bought their home at the corner of Airport Road and Holly Drive in 1948, when the road was two lanes wide and Holly Drive was gravel. Now the streets are bustling arterials filled with the growls of trucks.

The couple probably won’t see the station from their immaculate front lawn. But 72-year-old Dolores Blust doesn’t welcome the additional traffic. She’s also worried that pollution from the garbage would be washed off the station and eventually drain into Swamp Creek.

Kelley-Clarke said there could be some impact on surrounding waters. But he said the station would be built to meet federal clean water guidelines and regulations governing water drainage.

He cited environmental concerns as one reason the county rejected the other finalist, land in east Everett along the Snohomish River. The city of Everett had already stated its opposition to that spot, and warned the county would need to study possible impacts on endangered salmon nearby.

The Paine Field site is also further from any major neighborhoods, Kelley-Clarke said. Much of the surrounding land hosts large warehouses, airplane maintenance buildings and the airport itself. Even the Blust’s land is zoned for businesses, and Dolores Blust said business developers were seeking to buy their land.

She sounded resigned to the decision about the transfer station.

"I think it’ll go there," she said.

You can call Herald Writer Warren Cornwall at 425-339-3463 or send e-mail to

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