Trash talk: Kenai engineering firm selected for Homer transfer site design, costs

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has announced its intent to award a contract with Kenai engineering firm William J. Nelson and Associates to design the transformation of the Homer Baling-Landfill Facility into a transfer site and determine project costs. Once the contract is finalized, the firm has 150 days to complete the work.

"We intend to meet early next week and enter into contract negotiations with the intent of getting Nelson's group under contract so we can get them on board and move forward with the design," Mark Fowler of KPB's purchasing department said Friday, Feb. 18.

The six-employee engineering firm opened its doors in Kenai in 1982 and has been involved in numerous projects for the borough.

"We've done many road projects for the borough dating clear back to 1984," said Bill Nelson. "We've worked on transfer sites at Kenai, Sterling, Nikiski, Cooper Landing and Anchor Point."

The Homer Baling-Landfill Facility, located at Mile 169.3 Sterling Highway, was established as a landfill in 1979, and expanded to include a baling facility in 1983. Annually, the site receives 8,000 tons of waste, including material brought from transfer sites in Anchor Point and McNeil Canyon. The facility's Department of Environmental Conservation permit expires in August 2013.

In a race against the clock, the borough is taking steps to transform the existing operation to a transfer site, with household waste, referred to as municipal solid waste, trucked to the Central Peninsula Landfill. Inert waste, such as construction debris, and recycling materials will continue to be accepted at the Homer site. Price tag for the conversion is anticipated to run as high as $12 million.

The project tops the borough's priority list. Help with funding needed to complete the work was a topic of conversation when Borough Mayor Dave Carey and assembly members visited Juneau earlier this month.

"They absolutely understand the need," said Carey of the response from legislators and Gov. Sean Parnell's staff.

His presentation included a copy of the borough budget.

"I let them see exactly what we take in and that once you take away education, our entire government budget is $12 million," said Carey. "There is no way to find $11 or $12 million in a $12 million budget."

The Homer project follows similar efforts in Seward and Kenai and Nikiski. The borough began operating the Seward site in 1974. In 1991, it was closed as a landfill and opened as a transfer site in 1992. Similar efforts were undertaken at the Kenai and Nikiski facilities, with municipal waste from all three locations trucked to the Central Peninsula Landfill.

Jack Maryott, director of the borough's solid waste department, will hold the second of two community meetings in Homer City Hall's Cowles Council Chambers from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday to bring the community up to date on the project, answer questions and take input.

"Solid waste has become a very complex issue over the years with so many regulatory agencies involved. It's ever-changing and very dynamic. Trying to strike a balance between needs, wants and budget and where all the lines intersect is the biggest challenge here," said Fowler. "We have every reason to believe (William J. Nelson and Associates) will be a good fit. I think they'll add a lot of value to the project."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.



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