Trash strike gives Carnation a bad smell: City coped with no collections, gets new contractor in January
By CAROL LADWIG
Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter
August 3, 2012 · 3:44 PM
The noise and traffic of garbage collection trucks in Carnation were welcome returns to routine Friday, Aug. 3. After two full weeks without trash or recycling pick-up service during the Waste Management drivers' strike, the city's businesses were relieved to hear that the strike had ended Thursday.
"Yep, they came this morning, so everything's good to go," said Bill Fratzke, who owns the largest restaurant in town, Ixtapa, with his wife, Gracie.
If Waste Management drivers hadn't arrived Friday morning, very little would have been good to go in the city of about 1,800 people. Thursday afternoon, commercial dumpsters throughout the city were piled high with refuse and often surrounded by spill-over, courtesy of the raccoons and birds rummaging through the garbage for food. An occasional breeze brought with it a slightly sour smell.
"We're getting ready to explode," said Karen Marie, co-owner of Pete's Club Grill in Carnation Thursday afternoon. "It's horrible. It's a health hazard, it brings crows, it brings flies, it brings all kinds of vermin."
Looking at her business' overflowing dumpsters and recycle bins, she was skeptical that things would be back to normal any time soon.
"It's going to require a lot of clean-up, that's for sure," she said, adding that she didn't see Waste Management, the city's outgoing trash and recycling services provider, taking on that job.
Both restaurants had been getting ready to make their own runs to a dump or transfer station by the weekend. Fratzke, who's been through several garbage strikes in his 20 years of ownership, said two weeks was his limit, because that was his dumpsters' limit.
"I would appreciate being able to get a smaller dumpster, but I always worry about situations like this," he said.
He said the bulk of what his business puts out for pickup was actually recyclable materials, since he is able to combine all recyclables into one dumpster. Marie estimated that the bulk of Pete's waste is paper products, although food waste is a close second. Ixtapa serves about 500 people a day, Fratzke estimated, and Pete's averages about 100 orders daily.
The city, less affected by the strike, was also considering its options.
"If this continues to drag on for another week or so (we may) see about getting a transfer station-type thing… a place where we could collectively, get rid of some of our trash," said City Manager Ken Carter.
That would have primarily benefitted the businesses, although Carter said, "Our little bin out behind city hall is filled to overflowing. Can't close the lid."
He also said the city couldn't take punitive actions like the city of Seattle, which reportedly considered a $1.25 million fine for each day of missed collections, but the city has already made a move against Waste Management. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, the city will end its long contract with the company and hire Cleanscapes, Inc. for its services.
"One of the reasons that the council went with Cleanscapes, there were many reasons, was… a fairly significant reduction in rates across service categories," Carter said.Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter Carol Ladwig at firstname.lastname@example.org.