Opinion

Will the entire county end up bailing out the town? | Guest Column

By LEE BROOKS

This column is in response to the guest column of May 6 regarding the preliminary transfer station site decision.

A good decision does not need to be defended. Good choices stand on their own merits. This was not the case in the recent guest column of May 6 by County Council members Pratt and Peterson. It included a disclaimer stating, “... recognizing that there may be some roadblocks to using that site,” in the second sentence of an explanation concerning what led certain council members to choose to keep operating the transfer station in its current location.

The big winner in this game will be the Town of Friday Harbor if the transfer station remains at the Sutton Road site. As justification for leaving the site in its current location, San Juan County Council members have alluded to the fact that the town has claimed that it “very well could” operate its own transfer operation at Sutton Road, if the county chooses to build its own transfer station elsewhere.

As it stands now, the town may get paid taxpayer money for the purchase or lease of a toxic mess without even playing their hand and we'll get the bill when the time bomb explodes. Contrary to what is stated in their editorial, the county’s own solid waste staff has stated that the current landfill would not qualify for “Brownfield” (clean-up) funds.

Is there any evidence to support the town’s conjecture other than looking at the backside of their cards? Does anyone believe that it would be cost-effective for the town to clean-up, fix-up and staff their own transfer station at Sutton Road without county support?

The economic downturn is temporary; our problems with solid waste are not. It is always prudent to pool resources whenever possible, not just in hard times. Could both entities work together for a better solution, if the site was moved to Beaverton Valley Road? Federal grants for reclamation are based on the critical needs of our current problems, not on political solutions. 

The editorial’s suggestion that one group of people deserves to have the site in their backyards because of where they live is insulting. How does any of this solve our long-term problems without just kicking the dilemma down the road? No one is well served by reducing this problem to neighborhood squabbling.

There was virtually no consideration given to addressing our long-term solid waste problems in the County Council’s short-sighted rationale for site choice. Why was it not even mentioned in their explanation to the community?

The editorial states that this decision was made for the right reasons. Will any of these reasons limit us to curbside pickup? Will the entire county end up bailing out the town?

— Lee Brooks is a resident of Limestone Point

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