Auburn on list for transfer site; City officials say 2 locations are stinkers

The Municipal Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee has identified two possible Auburn sites on which to build a solid waste transfer station. - Courtesy map/Rich Wagner
The Municipal Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee has identified two possible Auburn sites on which to build a solid waste transfer station.
— image credit: Courtesy map/Rich Wagner

King County plans to replace the outdated Algona solid waste transfer station by 2018 and is looking at two sites in Auburn among five to build a new transfer station.

Last Friday the county's Municipal Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee presented its list of five prospects, among them two 19-acre commercial properties, one just west of Lowe's, the other east of the Supermall.

The leading candidate is said to be in Algona and the other sites in Federal Way.

King County's Solid Waste Division hosts an informational meeting on the issue from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Auburn Senior Activity Center, 808 Ninth St. SE. Presentations are at 5 and 6 p.m.

Open house visitors can learn about the replacement project, including the properties under consideration for locating a new recycling and transfer station. County staff will be on hand to receive public comments.

In a release, King County said that its Algona Transfer Station has served South King County residents and businesses for nearly 50 years but lacks several key features of modern facilities, among them:

• Providing sufficient space for recycling services.

• Enclosing building to control odor, noise and dust.

• Providing adequate on-site space for vehicles to line up.

• Installing trash compactors to accurately and efficiently load the collected garbage, thereby reducing the number of trucks hauling garbage from the recycling and transfer station to the landfill by as much as 30 percent.

• Providing "an appealing, landscaped property and building design that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood."

The county has formed an advisory committee representing different interests to provide community perspectives on the siting of a new facility. Committee members, who helped develop criteria that are used to evaluate potential sites, number representatives from cities, chambers of commerce, environmental and neighborhood groups, school districts, recycling and garbage hauling companies and transfer station users.

Auburn officials aren't buying it.

"The county did a rigorous analysis of how they decide whether a site is a candidate or not and so identified these as offering reasonable load access, but there is hardly anything in it for the Auburn citizens," said Auburn City Councilman Rich Wagner.

Yes, Wagner said, the sites are accessible and the City would receive real estate excise tax revenue from the property sale. But residents would realize traffic congestion, snarled traffic and ballooning street maintenance costs. The City would lose tax revenue from the removal of prime commercial land from property tax rolls with no sales tax, he said.

And the smells, noise and congestion, Wagner warned, would depress nearby property development

"Very few jobs would be created by the transfer station compared to commercial development of the property," Wagner said.

Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis said county planners need to rethink their location choices.

"King County's Solid Waste planners chose two sites in Auburn, both of which are incredibly valuable as commercial sites. One is just west of Lowe's, where everybody wants to see a big-box store, the second is right across the tracks from the Supermall, so we could look at it every single day. We don't think this is the wisest choice possible," Lewis said.

In the recent past, Lewis noted, King County has eyed, ultimately without success, Auburn as "a dumping site" for sex offender housing and as the site for a trash incinerator plant.

"...The whole purpose is to get a transfer station in the south end. But I think somebody needs to work a little harder to find a location than has been done to date," Lewis said.

The recommendation of a preferred site for the new facility would be made following an environmental review process in 2013. The King County Executive makes the final decision about a preferred site. At the earliest, construction would begin in 2016, and the new recycling and transfer station would open in 2018.

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