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June 25, 2019

5/9/2019 7:29:00 AM
Search continues for next Oneida County landfill
Jacob Friede
of the Lakeland Times

For the second time this year, the Oneida County Solid Waste Department swung and missed on a proposed solid waste demolition site.

At the May 1 meeting of the Oneida County Forestry, Land, and Recreation Committee, Bart Sexton of Sand Creek Consultants, who is consulting with the solid waste department on this project, proposed a site, in the county forest just west of the current Oneida County Solid Waste Department landfill and south of Trout Creek Road.

Sexton explained the site was not only logistically convenient, being so close to the scale station, but it has the topographical characteristics the department was looking for.

"It's a natural depression. It's about 30 feet deep, so there's going to be minimal excavation that's going to be required to build this in," he said.

While it appeared to be an ideal site to the solid waste department, it certainly didn't to members of the Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association, or RASTA.

The site is right next to the Washburn Lake Silent Sports Trails Area where RASTA has built and maintained trails for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking since 2010. In fact, the proposed access road to the demolition site would actually cross one of the silent sports trails.

Phil Newcomb, a member of RASTA, spoke out against the proposed site and said it would be wrong to impede upon the tranquil setting valued by a very active silent sports community.

"It's just a beautiful area and we're going to be losing this. If you take acreage out pretty soon there won't be any," Newcomb said. "We have over a $200,000 investment in trails out there and we're continuing to build more. We also have the investment in ski trails the community uses."

Newcomb also worried, since this site had come up as a possibility for landfill use before, that a precedent could be set and whenever the county needed a piece of land for a dump, they could borrow it from the Washburn Lake trails area.

"We had the same discussion in 2009 where we were looking at withdrawing from that same block to make a landfill site and now we're having that discussion again," Newcomb said. "And 10 years from now we may be having that discussion again. I think that if we continue down this road we're going to lose the silent sports area and I think it is more beneficial to our community to have that than to keep chipping away at it every year."

This is the second proposed site that has faced resistance as of late. In March, a waste demolition site was set to go on a location just north of the scale office at the current Oneida County landfill, but citing noise, pollution, and property value loss, nearby homeowners objected, especially since they were not made aware of the plans until after the Department of Forestry, Land, and Recreation Committee approved the project.

The committee ultimately decided to formally reject that site in March and search for an alternative. That alternative ended up being the one on the Washburn Lake trails, and while they did not formerly reject the Washburn Trails site, the committee heeded RASTA's concerns and unanimously decided to keep searching for better, less intrusive options.

"At this particular site, while the committee has not, by a motion, rejected it, it is the consensus of the committee to go forth and look for some more alternatives," committee chairman Jack Sorenson said.

Committee member Bob Mott suggested looking at options north of Trout Creek Road, however chairman Sorenson cautioned that such a location could be too far away from the scale station to be properly monitored.

Sexton explained that any solid waste demolition site will have to have the same type of depression in the ground as the proposed Washburn trails site, to avoid excavation, or it will simply not be cost effective for the solid waste department to build it.

"It comes back down to cost for the solid waste department," he said. "If they have to build a $50,000-$60,000 road, then they have to spend $60-$100,000, just some off the top figures, for excavation, there's less financial incentive for them to do it."

Brian Hegge, also a member of RASTA, said the situation seems forced and just because an alternative site may be more expensive does not mean it should be immediately taken out of consideration.

"If there are other options, even though they cost money, they should be looked at," he said. "You're trying to slam dunk this into a hole in the ground that is just convenient for the existing operation."

Oneida County's current landfill is set to reach capacity this summer.

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