It’s taken more than two years to get here.
But the process of deciding whether San Juan Island’s solid-waste transfer station will stay on Sutton Road or move to a new location appears to be headed down the home stretch.
Early next year, the County Council will determine which of the five properties currently under evaluation will be home to the island’s solid waste transfer station for the next two decades or longer. Until that time, it’s the evaluation — also known as an environmental impact statement — that will draw the spotlight.
A summary of the final installment of the five-part study was presented to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee June 9 and the County Council on June 10. It’s expected to be released for public review and comment beginning July 28.
The study was prepared by Kirkland-based AMEC, an environmental engineering group, on behalf of the county Public Works Department.
At that time, according to Public Works Utilities Manager Ed Hale, the evaluation will have been possibly revised by yet another consultant group, this one hired by the Community Development and Planning Department.
Hale said the objectivity of the site-selection process is better served by having outside consultants represent the department sponsoring the project and the department tasked with accounting for its impacts.
Hale said it’s a process similar to other large-scale projects, such as Roche Harbor or Rosario Resort.
“In this situation, we’re like Rosario,” he said.
The county is considering options to the current waste transfer station on Sutton Road, which is owned by the Town of Friday Harbor and leased by the county.
County Public Works officials have long said that the Sutton Road site is not large enough for recycling, waste collection and location of the county public works yard. The county public works yard is on Guard Street.
Public Works officials also say the site cannot easily accommodate peak traffic to and from the site.
Renovation of the Sutton Road site is one option being studied. Other candidate properties are the 27 county-owned acres straddling Beaverton and Lampard roads; a 40-acre parcel on Egg Lake Road; 21 acres on Daniel Lane; and eight acres at the intersection of Cattle Point and Golf Course roads.
The environmental impact statement assesses the possible environmental impacts a waste transfer station would have on each site in the surrounding area.
Following a 45-day public comment period, the initial evaluation will be revised and a “final” environmental impact statement will be introduced for another round of comment beginning sometime near the end of August.
The so-called EIS does not take into account financial consideration of a potential move or future operations of the solid waste site. Steve Alexander, manager of the Public Works Department’s Solid Waste Division, said a study of the financial requirements is being prepared by Public Works at the County Council’s request. It should be completed by the time the initial EIS is unveiled in July, he said.
Hale said the EIS is intended to help determine the best site based on factors such as land use, pollution, traffic and the impact on neighborhoods and wetlands. The future financing of the San Juan solid waste transfer station is a different issue, he said.
“The EIS should help answer, ‘Are we better off at one of these sites or another?’,” he said.
For information about the EIS and its schedule, visit www.sanjuanco.com/transferstation/transferstationtimeline.aspx