Transfer station a possibility

MARQUETTE – The city of Marquette and the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority are considering a transfer station from which recyclables would be taken to the county landfill.

Although the process is still in the discussion phase and nothing is official, the property that’s being looked at as the site of the station is located along McClellan Avenue between 1 and 1 1/2 miles south of the McClellan/U.S. 41 intersection.

The Marquette City Commission held a joint meeting Thursday with the authority for the presentation of the proposal, whose goals would be to increase recycling so less material would need to be buried at the landfill, located in Sands Township.

Also under the proposal, recycled material could be sold to commercial interests, with the proceeds used to offset the costs of recycling and thereby lowering community service costs.

Rick Aho, authority director, said residents getting more involved in recycling would eliminate the use of the green bags now used in city trash pick-up.

“Most people like to be ecologically compliant, to be green as much as they can,” Aho said.

Organic materials also would be available for pick-up under the proposal, he said.

“So, Marquette can be the greenest city in the United States of it wants to,” Aho said.

Scott Cambensy, superintendent of the city’s Department of Public Works, said the proposed site is suitable for traffic needs, with direct access to McClellan. The transfer station would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with shortened hours on Saturdays.

The site, Cambensy said, is fenced and has dark-sky lighting as well as onsite water for dust control and fire protection.

Under a proposed license/operation agreement between the city and the authority, the authority would build a transfer station on the city-owned land at the site and would own and operate the facility. Cambensy estimated the construction costs at $360,000.

Curbside recyclables and trash would be picked up and delivered to the facility, he said, and the authority would market them for a profit, splitting the proceeds at 60 percent for the city and 40 percent for the authority.

Cambensy said the profit would be $20 per ton after operating expenses. Also, the term of the agreement would be for 30 years.

The timetable calls for commission and authority approval followed by various reviews, with the facility opening in September.

The contract for the Marquette-based Waste Management, which handles residential garbage service for the city, runs through September. Bids then will be advertised for a hauler, with pick-up details to be determined.

Commissioner Mike Coyne said, “This is a great opportunity to extend the life of the landfill.”

Aho noted the number of outlets for recyclable material has increased, so he expects the reuse of that material will be more lucrative too. However, he said even if there was no value in marketing recyclables, saving landfill space will help relieve the burden on future generations.

No private hauler, he said, can do what the authority can do, including handling composting better than the city.

“So, it makes sense we work together,” Aho said.

Mayor Pro Tem Fred Stonehouse called the proposal “visionary” and “realistic.”

“We can’t keep digging a hole and putting stuff in the hole,” Stonehouse said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.