Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Chelan County reevaluates future of Leavenworth brush drop-off site amid cost concerns

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LEAVENWORTH – In response to cost ineffectiveness, Chelan County Solid Waste Council is considering options for the Leavenworth brush drop-off yard’s future, including potentially closing the site permanently. 

The site, located at the intersection of East Leavenworth and Icicle Road, typically opens in late March and operates once a week until November. It opened in 2017 as a way for people living in the apple maggot quarantine area to properly dispose of their yard waste.

According to the county, the site has not been self-sustaining in years past. Costs have exceeded revenue, with staffing and hauling material from the site considered its two largest expenditures. The Chelan County Solid Waste Council recommended closing the site if it continued to be cost-ineffective. 

“The county is currently reviewing costs and considering other potential options, such as increasing fees at the site, offering a reduced service or closing the site. Chelan County Public Works expects to have a determination next month,” said Chelan County Public Information Officer Jill FitzSimmons, in an email to Ward Media.

For residents and businesses located in the apple maggot quarantine area, options for disposal are limited. The Dryden Transfer Station does not allow any sort of yard waste from the quarantine zone and will refuse solid waste if it contains yard material. The City of Leavenworth provides two pickups for residents located within city limits in the spring and fall. Those within city limits can drop off excess yard waste at the Leavenworth Recycling Center, which is then hauled to Winton Manufacturing Compost Works near Cole’s Corner. 

“Currently at the Recycling Center, during large yard waste drop-off periods, it is overwhelmed, and within 30 minutes I've seen that yard waste 20-yarder full, and so people often go and then they have to come home with it,” said Robette Schmidt of Winton Manufacturing.

At the City Council Study Session on Feb. 13, Schmidt proposed a partnership with the city to offer curbside pickup, simplifying both yard and food waste disposal for residents. 

Currently, Winton Manufacturing has 144 residents participating in a composting program in which residents drop off their food waste at various locations in town. Schmidt offered a few different options for curbside pickup, in which residents could opt in for either a food waste or yard waste bin or comingle both streams in one larger bin. The City of Leavenworth would be able to set the rates, and Winton Manufacturing would handle the pick-up and hauling.

At the Community Engagement Night, Schmidt took a poll of 63 people who visited her table, in which 50 percent of people resided within the city and said they would participate in the curbside program, and 20 percent of residents lived outside the city, but also wanted to participate. Only 10 percent said they were happy with the compost program as is, and 20 percent were either not asked or indifferent.

“I think a lot more people will participate. I think we're pretty lucky to have 144 that do participate already. They’re physically going somewhere to drop it off instead of just participating in front of their door,” said Schmidt.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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