By KATE REARDON
EVERETT — Snohomish County’s main airplane landing hub could become one of its main garbage hubs.
Paine Field is the No. 1 choice for a new garbage transfer station that would serve the bulk of Snohomish County. If approved, by 2005 about 175,000 tons of trash could be collected there from the central part of the county before being sent off by train to Eastern Washington.
But first, Snohomish County has to prepare an environmental study and gather public comment.
The county is accepting comments on what folks want addressed in the environmental review and will hold two meetings next month.
The county began its search for a new site after realizing that the transfer site in Everett is too small and that the city of Everett, the landowner, wanted the county to move the station.
After months of research, a list of eight possible sites for a new transfer station has been narrowed to two for the environmental study.
"Our preferred site is Paine Field," said Steve Goldstein, principal planner with Snohomish County.
The Paine Field site is the top contender for the station, where building materials, candy wrappers and other waste will be smashed into metal containers and shipped by rail to a landfill in Klickitat County. The county already owns the land, which is surrounded mostly by industrial and commercial development.
An alternative site, which will also be included in the study, is on property owned by Kimberly-Clark in northeast Everett. By state law, the county has to identify an alternative site, Goldstein said.
Other sites considered were in northeast Everett, Smith Island and near the Snohomish River.
The county hopes to begin construction at the Paine Field site by 2002, Goldstein said. "The more we’ve investigated (that site), the better it has looked," he said.
It’s away from neighborhoods, but there may still be a drawback. The main concern at this point is traffic moving in and out of the transfer station with Fairmount Elementary School just a few blocks away, Goldstein said.
"Right now, traffic looks fairly good," he said. "Neighborhood garbage trucks generally aren’t on the road when children are going to school."
The Everett transfer station is running way over its designated capacity, he said, adding that it’s the second most used station in the county’s system. It will take in an estimated 155,000 tons of garbage this year.
"It’s not going to be able to handle future capacity," he said, adding that’s expected to be 175,000 tons by 2005.
Snohomish County has the money to build the new facility, which could cost as much as $15 million.
"For years, we’ve been putting money away," Goldstein said. "We don’t anticipate fees going up at all, but if they do go up, it’s not because of this."
Consumers pay the county $89 per ton to dump garbage at the transfer stations. In turn, the county pays a company $50 per ton to get rid of the junk. The rest of the money the county collects pays for operations and maintenance of the sites.
The county has transfer stations in Everett, Mountlake Terrace and Arlington, as well as drop boxes throughout the county.
Statistics show people are throwing away more and more garbage.
"When the economy is good, the garbage business is good."
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