Solid waste solutions are within the town, county's grasp | Editorial

The Friday Harbor Town Council has withdrawn “for the time being” the town’s offer to sell the solid waste transfer station site to the county.

The San Juan County Council has responded that it may go its own way and develop a new transfer station on a neighboring parcel.

Within their letters to each other: An openness to negotiate and resolve their disputes. We encourage them to do so. They have an opportunity to resolve one of the most contentious issues on the island today and strengthen the relationship between the town and county governments.

These facts are clear:

— The state Department of Ecology and the town and county’s Joint Planning Policy Committee discourage the operation of two solid waste transfer stations on the island.

— The town owns the solid waste transfer station site on Sutton Road; the county leases it and operates the transfer station. As landlord and tenant, they have an obligation to correct environmental and safety problems on the site. The county’s share of that responsibility doesn’t go away once it leaves for another site, even a neighboring one.

— No one wants to live next to a solid waste transfer station. Not on Beaverton Valley Road, not on Daniel Lane, and not on Sutton Road. But it’s better to fix and improve a site long accustomed to that use, rather than create a new use somewhere else and still have cleanup of the existing site to contend with.

The county owns more than 6 acres next to the existing transfer station. On those properties, the island could have an improved transfer station and expanded recycling. Existing environmental problems could be corrected. There could be green and recreational uses; the town is considering an array of solar panels on the old landfill, and there’s room for walking trails.

Solutions are within grasp. We encourage the town and county to continue negotiating.

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