Last Friday I had the opportunity to tour the new Wallingford Transfer Station. On that day I wore two hats, one was that of a writer for Wallyhood.org and the other was that of a Wallingford Community Council board member. The new transfer station can be summed up in one word – FANTASTIC!!! The facility is surrounded by attractive landscaping, a playground, benches, work out stations, a basketball court and a super art sculpture made of reclaimed rebar.
The design of the station makes it easier and more economic for residents to drop off oil, recyclables, batteries, paper, needles and other sharp articles and even bicycles which are donated to Bike Works, a non-profit organization. All of this is at No Charge to residents. When residents want to dispose of other trash such as wood, metal, mattresses, etc. they just follow the easy-to-read directions to and through the scales and into the designated disposal areas.
The operations of the station are state-of-the-art complete with computer driven hydraulic compacters and truck loaders, noise abatement design as well as dust and odor control technology. The entire facility was designed with two key strategies, safety and environmental housekeeping, and the station definitely has met these criteria. There is even an observation room where the public and school students can view the operation, watch a video, and view displays to learn how the City manages this facility
This facility was designed with the community in mind and one of the reasons is that the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and the leadership of the Wallingford Community Council (WCC) worked extremely close to ensure that the station met the needs of the City of Seattle as well as the needs of the community. It all started about 5 years ago when the leaders of the Wallingford Community Council (WCC) headed by its president, Lee Raaen, went to a City of Seattle briefing on the remodeling of the Wallingford transfer station as the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) was reaching out for public comment and opinions about the station. As a result of this meeting the WCC and the SPU began talking in earnest about the transfer station and its impact on the Wallingford community.
Initially, the SPU wanted to enter into a Memo of Understanding with the WCC, however, the WCC wanted an agreement that was more enforceable like a binding contract. In addition, other key issues involved with the new station included:
• Height of the building
• Particulate emissions
• Hours of operation
• Number of truckloads per day
• Street and sidewalk renovation
• Rezoning of the land parcel to accommodate the building design
• Definition of the elements of “public benefit” that the SPU was required to provide by law.
Negotiations were tough and, at times, it looked as though they might break down. The SPU said it couldn’t bind the City to a contract and demanded a Memo of Understanding be put in place. The WCC held fast to its demand for a contract and went with SPU to get City Council to approve such a contract and, in the end, Council directed SPU to comply and enter into a contract with the WCC.
In return, the WCC agreed not to initiate a lawsuit and to support the project. The terms of the contract required the SPU to get approval from the WCC if they requested any changes in the project. An example is when the SPU wanted to reorientate the administration building, the WCC had to approve this change. The WCC further cooperated with the SPU when it requested the closure of an intersection for one weekend to complete the installation of key infrastructure needed by the new station.
After 2-1/2 years of negotiation, the contract was agreed upon and the transfer station will be officially opening in a few weeks complete with a playground, basketball court and art sculpture. Wallingford residents are pleased with the results of the good-faith negotiations on the part of the WCC leadership, the Seattle Public Utilities and the City of Seattle. This successful effort is a result of Integrity, Trust and Honesty on the part of all involved.
The Wallingford Transfer Station will officially open on December 10, 2016 so if you have time, stop by for the opening.
I would like to thank Jeff Neumer of the Seattle Public Utilities and Andy Ryan of the City of Seattle for their fantastic cooperation. It is appreciated.