Flathead residents speak out on trash 'super site' proposal


KALISPELL, Mont. - For years, the Flathead County Commissioner's Office has been working to consolidate trash and recycling container sites across Flathead County.

The most recent plan looked at eliminating the Bigfork and Lakeside sites, but the county has made a change in that plan after hearing the public's input.

The public's voice was so strong that instead of getting rid of the Bigfork site, the county wants to make a container super site.

John Buswell goes to the Bigfork recycling center at least twice a week. We talked to him when he was there recycling drywall and he knows something needs to be done with the site.

"This site should be closed. They should have another one that's more accessible -- less traffic, off the beaten site, with a fence around it," Buswell said.

But he doesn't think the county should get rid of it, and after hearing the public's input, county officials think they will.

"Folks really love these container sites and want to continue to have them. They're convenient, they're a good way to move garbage," said Flathead County Public Works Director David Prunty.

Instead, the county wants to purchase about five acres of land near the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 83 and make a super site.

"We need to make them better sites with fencing and a paved approach with a night light and hours of operation," Prunty said.

The county wanted to consolidate four trash sites in Bigfork, Lakeside, Somers and Creston into two sites. They wanted to get rid of the ones in Bigfork and Lakeside to save money.

"We learned when we consolidated west of town with the Kila and the Marion site, and put one right in the middle of those two, we were saving about $70,000 a year," said Prunty.

If the county does decide to move forward with the super site, people in the Ferndale, Swan River and Bigfork areas will have to pay more -- between $30 and $40.

However, that does not bother residents. They say they are willing to pay more if it means keeping a site in Bigfork.

"We heard a lot through the process of folks saying, ‘Charge us a little bit more; we're happy to pay more,'" Prunty said.

That's the case for Buswell.

"Put it on my taxes. As long as it's done right and it's out of sight and safe, I could do it," Buswell said.

County officials say they won't put any money on people's taxes until one year after the site is up and running.

The Flathead County Public Works department is giving the public one last chance to voice their opinion on the proposed super site in a meeting on Tuesday, August 12, at 6 p.m.