City exploring new westside trash facility, smaller transfer station

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Months after Mayor Tim Keller canned the idea for a new city trash transfer station near Edith and Comanche, the city’s now considering a different option that could mean a couple of new solid waste facilities. 

The newly revealed idea could relocate a chunk of Solid Waste’s operations to the Westside to include some administrative offices and some maintenance operations. 

The idea was discussed for the first time publicly on Monday evening during a Finance and Government Operations Committee, as Councilor Brad Winter has been pressing Keller Administration officials over answers on their plan. 

Mayor Keller announced in late December that the city would abandon a more than four-year plan to build a transfer station at the Solid Waste property on Edith Boulevard near Comanche Road NE. 

While that announcement was celebrated by Edith-area neighbors, others have worried over what’s next, including Councilor Winter. 

In January, Winter introduced legislation for the city to eliminate a $1.22 fee hike on garbage bills that residents have been paying since summer 2014. The money was earmarked for the construction of an Edith transfer station. 

Since Keller’s announcement that the city wouldn’t build the Edith transfer station, the city has continued to collect the extra funds, while giving no explanation as to “what’s next.” 

“I want to know what the plan is and a timeline,” said Councilor Winter during Monday’s meeting. “They’ve collected about $3 million so far and the taxpayers still getting nothing.” 

Facing a vote on Councilor Winter’s proposed fee reduction Monday, Keller administration officials finally gave some answers as to what they’re thinking of. 

According to the city’s new Solid Waste Director Matthew Whelan, they’re now thinking about a different project entirely. 

“What we’re really doing is we’re looking at how we can restructure how Solid Waste is actually collected in the City of Albuquerque, to reflect a lot of the growth that’s happening on the Westside,” said Whelan. 

Whelan says the city is considering relocating some Solid Waste operations to a new facility, possibly near the dump. 

“Maybe where we put a maintenance and admin shop on the west side to kind of divert some of our fleet to the west side,” said Whelan. 

The city thinks that would help cut some long trash trips. Today, all city trucks end the night at the Edith facility, which is the primary maintenance and storage yard for the department. 

However, Whelan still says he wants to build a transfer station, too.  

“It will be a lot smaller and it won’t have as big a footprint,” said Whelan. 

There are just no answers yet as to where that could be. 

“I’m really concerned about what the timeline is,” said Winter. 

The city’s Solid Waste Department is now promising more plans for what they want to do with future trash facilities by May 2018, when they hope to complete the next budget.  

Councilor Winter deferred his proposal Monday to get rid of the extra $1.22 fee that the city has been collecting for the transfer station. The bill will now come back around for a possible vote in June. 

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