SWAC makes choice official; recommends Beaverton Valley Road site for San Juan Island solid waste transfer station

The San Juan County Solid Waste Advisory Committee made it official Monday.

The committee voted 6-3 to recommend to the County Council that a new solid waste transfer station be built on Beaverton Valley Road.

The outcome of the meeting mirrorred the committee’s Dec. 29 meeting. A 20-acre site on Daniel Lane, next to the new San Juan Business Park, was rated second of the three potential sites. The current site on Sutton Road was voted least favorable.

And once again, there was no unanimity on the committee.

Members Mike MacDonald and Jack Yelverton have raised concerns that the committee is acting too quickly and that more information is needed about cost and safety issues. They and committee member Calvin Den Hartog of San Juan Sanitation believe that the Sutton Road site is the best choice for a solid waste transfer station.

Next: The committee’s final recommendation will be presented to the County Council in a joint meeting Jan. 26. The council will hold at least one public hearing and is expected to make its decision in the following weeks.

The process of selecting a site began at the direction of the council in 2006. In its directive, the council cited inadequacies in the current facility and the desire to add services, such as composting and re-use programs that cannot be accommodated at the current transfer station the county now leases on Sutton Road. That site, a former landfill, is owned by the Town of Friday Harbor.

Over the past two years, the county’s solid waste utility has spent more than a half-million dollars on studies and an environmental impact statement covering five potential sites for a new transfer station and resource recovery facility.

The county Public Works Department wants a site where it can offer improved solid waste transfer, composting, hazardous waste collection, reuse and recycle services, and separation of such materials as construction debris, much of which can be reused.

According to a Public Works analysis, the Beaverton Valley Road site would require between $4.2 million and $5.6 million in improvements — buildings, roads and scales; excavation, fill and site preparation; composting pads; and stormwater detention.

Making improvements to the Sutton Road site, according to the analysis, would cost between $5.2 million and $7.1 million.

The Daniel Lane site would cost between $4.1 million to $5.6 million.

However, in a letter to the editor, Yelverton said developing the Beaverton Valley Road site could cost as much as $10 million, and that suitable improvements to the Sutton Road site could be made for about $1 million.

For more information about the sites, visit

Mitzi Johnson, whose Hillview Terrace neighborhood is next to the current solid waste transfer station, supports the committee’s recommendation.

Johnson said the best chance the county has of maintaining the goals of its solid waste management plan far into the future — including the continuation of self-hauling and encouraging recycling — is with the wide open spaces of the Beaverton Valley Road site.

“If the county is going to honor the vision of the solid waste management plan, then they’ll need the room to do it,” she said.

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