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Will Cimarron be the savior of San Juan self-haul?
By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter
Cimarron Trucking may be the last best hope for self-haul services at the Orcas and San Juan transfer stations. But Cimarron doesn't want that title.
"We're interested in being part of the solution in the San Juans, but we can't commit to anything about San Juan Island until more information becomes available," said Blair Estenson, Cimarron president.
Estenson expects the county will ask any private company that's interested in running the transfer station on San Juan to make a significant investment in structural improvements of the town-owned Sutton Road facility, whenever the county gets around to spelling out terms of such an agreement.
But until the county and the town of Friday Harbor agree on how that facility will operate, Estenson said, "it's a little early to talk about what we might do on San Juan Island."
Meanwhile, Cimarron, which hauls trash from the transfer stations on Orcas and San Juan to the mainland, has its sights set on Orcas. Estenson said the company will respond to the county's request for proposals, approved April 17 by the County Council, for operating the Orcas transfer station, which includes providing self-haul services. Though it may require some investment, Estenson said prices and disposal fees would have to remain "competitive with other places" so as not to drive away potential customers, such as the county's franchise hauler, San Juan Sanitation.
"But we're already providing services on Orcas and we'd like to continue doing so," he said.
Cimarron says it is "aware" that his company will have to plan for maintenance and some capital costs at the Orcas facility, and that pricing for services "will have to be competitive with other places" in order to keep San Juan Sanitation coming to Orcas. "But we're already providing services on Orcas and we'd like to continue doing so."
While San Juan Sanitation will continue to collect and haul trash in the San Juans as the county franchise hauler, General Manager Calvin Den Hartog said the company is hesitant about getting into the business of operating a transfer station. Den Hartog added that an estimated investment of $500,000 to upgrade the Sutton Road faculty would cause any potential operator concern.
"We will study the Orcas RFP and any RFP for San Juan Island, but operating any transfer station is outside of our present business model," he said.
Though the future of self-haul remains up in the air on San Juan Island, a solution appears in the making on Lopez.
Councilman Jamie Stephens, Lopez/Shaw, said supporters of a island-wide solid waste disposal district have collected nearly 600 signatures on a petition which they hope will prompt the council to create such a district. The type of revenue that such a district would have at its disposal has yet to be determined.
But plans are in the works.
Sandy Bishop of Solid Waste Alternatives Project has requested that the council hold a public meeting May 22 in which the group will present its plans and projections for the district and for placing a proposed property tax increase, revenue from which would be used to help support the district, on the November election ballot.
"We've been pursuing this idea since 1995," Bishop said, "and we intend to show our fellow San Juan County citizens that this is a viable alternative to urban-type curbside garbage collection."