Solid waste site: What can the SWAC be thinking? | Guest Column

By Jeanie Rouleau Garrett

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) has decided that the best place for a new garbage dump, popularly known as a solid waste transfer station, should be located at the corner of Golf Course and Cattle Point roads.

Yes, they say they are looking at other sites. However, there have been extensive renovations to the site in the last few months, all very mysterious. The Journal and Web sites have given us little clues as to the nature of the move; they simply say the present site on Sutton Road is inadequate.

So, they’ve chosen this site to consider. But have they really thought it through carefully? A garbage dump at the end of the airport runway, where anyone who flies in can see our scenic, pristine, idyllic, unspoiled island — and the first impression is a garbage dump! Not to mention the Wells Fargo San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Tournament; how many celebrities want to go past a garbage dump to get to their tournament? It seems like very poor public relations to me.

Also, there is the smell that accompanies it. I can see it wafting in all directions, as far as town. That corner is a wind tunnel. Then there are the rats; they accompany any garbage. Let them infiltrate the golf course, that would surely be a turn-off to a lot of people, or at least the golf course employees.

I’ve been told that they are going to cover the dump to discourage the seagulls that normally accompany a dump. That will be an obstacle the airport doesn’t need. Are they going to cover all of it? It wasn’t very long ago that an eagle in the flight path was killed. What would a flock of seagulls do for flight safety?

It has also been brought to my attention that they want to put the recycling area there. Now, rest assured, you know that there will be varmints attracted to that as well.

Then there is the concern of the traffic it will produce, all the way from town to Golf Course Road. That corner is a very dangerous corner. I personally know of three accidents, major, where cars have ended up in Tom Finney’s field and one that was upside down on the corner itself. Then there’s the tourist traffic, mo-peds, scooters, joggers, bicycles, trucks from Island Concrete, and dump trucks from various construction outfits that travel Cattle Point Road frequently. It’s a very dangerous blind corner.

And what about ground water pollution, toxic chemicals eventually drifting into Griffin Bay, the litter from garbage on the back of unsecured rigs going to the dump, the noise disrupting not only the neighborhood but maybe even drifting as far as the town itself on a quiet, clear, silent day? It seems so wrong to me.

On top of all that, the land cost a lot. I’m told each lot, two of them, cost up to $500,000 each, and it’s view property, in a residential area. This price seems excessive since the county already leases the land the current dumpsite is on.

They say that the current site is inadequate for our needs. So the SWAC wants to, what, really mess up another neighborhood, when the current site can be made adequate with far less money and less disruption to the neighborhood that has been here since the island was homesteaded?

Golf Course Road is very close to historic Argyle. Again I ask, “What can they be thinking?”

— Jeanie Rouleau Garrett was raised in Old Argyle. She owns Store-More Storage off Cattle Point Road near Friday Harbor Airport.

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