A community workgroup has been given six more months to come up with an alternative to closing Bigfork’s green box site along Montana Highway 83. The Flathead County Solid Waste Board voted for the extension on July 23.
The possible closure of the Bigfork and Lakeside green box sites became a contentious issue on the south end of the valley late last year. At the time, Public Works Director David Prunty said the Bigfork and Lakeside green box sites were small, unsafe and needed to be closed. If the sites were closed, residents would have to bring their garbage to green box sites in Creston and Somers. Prunty said the closure was part of a long-term goal to consolidate green box sites and have those that remain fenced in and staffed, much like the one in Columbia Falls.
But Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork President Paul Mutascio said the plan was unfair to Bigfork and Lakeside citizens, who would spend more on fuel to bring their garbage to another dump. He also said it would be hard for the area’s many seniors to take their garbage to the alternative sites.
“What you are talking about is a drastic decrease in services this county offers,” Mutascio said during a January Solid Waste Board meeting. “Those types of decisions should be up to the entire county commission, not an appointed board.”
At that January meeting, the board voted to delay the closure of the green box sites for at least six months while the community came up with alternatives. Since then, a four-person workgroup has met with landowners and county officials to discuss various options.
“We are making progress,” Mutascio said last week. “We have solutions, either we fix up the current site or we build a new one next to it.”
Mutascio said a variety of options would be formally presented to the solid waste board in the coming weeks. Among the ideas is decreasing the speed limit along Montana Highway 83 so that the dumpsite could be expanded north toward the road.
“Looking at the development (in that area), the speed limit should probably be dropped anyway,” he said.
The community workgroup has also talked with the landowners around the current dumpsite and they have expressed interest in leasing or selling land to expand it. Mutascio also said space at the current site could be used better if the dumpsters were reorganized.
Mutascio said he hopes the workgroup and the solid waste board will be able to come to a solution in the coming weeks and months.
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