Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Jill Gatwood isn’t eager to see her neighborhood play a prominent role in the future of Albuquerque’s trash.
Gatwood lives in the Greater Gardner neighborhood, which lies west of the Edith and Comanche site where the city plans to build a $39 million complex for its Solid Waste Management Department.
The project would include a transfer station where garbage trucks would dump the trash they collect on their daily routes. Semi-trucks would then carry it out to the West Side landfill.
“I think the whole area will just be a mess,” Gatwood said.
But city executives say they hope to address those concerns, as the project is still years away. And they note that the Solid Waste Department already operates on the 22-acre site.
“This isn’t a green field. This isn’t a blank city lot,” said Jill Holbert, Albuquerque’s director of solid waste management. “We’re already running trucks in and out of this yard.”
The approval process for a transfer station, she said, will include public hearings and detailed plans to “mitigate” traffic and other concerns.
Holbert acknowledges that there will be extra truck trips because the drivers will unload there in the middle of their shifts.
The trucks will stick to Comanche, between Interstate 25 and Edith, not venturing into the residential areas to the west, closer to Second Street.
The transfer of the trash will also happen indoors, limiting dust, she said, and no trash will be stored overnight.
But Gatwood and David Wood, president of the Greater Gardner Neighborhood Association, say the city hasn’t done a good job communicating with them. They learned about the project in the newspaper.
“We believe we rightly deserve a place at the table,” Wood said.
Part of their concern centers on making the site a “convenience center” where ordinary residents can drop off trash, similar to the department’s Eagle Rock and Montessa Park sites.
Add it all up and the project contributes to “an already overburdened area” that’s home to other industrial sites, Wood said.
Holbert said the public will have ample opportunity to weigh in. The city may need a zoning change, which would require approval of the Environmental Planning Commission. An environmental permit from the state will be needed in any case.
“We welcome the public involvement,” Holbert said.
The whole point of the project, Holbert said, is to make the department more efficient and save money. The transfer station would give garbage trucks a central location to drop off their collections, avoiding the long trip to the West Side landfill, she said.
That reduces mileage, saving on fuel and reducing pollution, she said.
Redesigning and rebuilding the department’s operation at the site could also give it more “curb appeal,” Holbert said. The design work isn’t far enough along yet to submit for the state permit.