PALMER–The last piece of funding fell into place for a $6.5 million Community Recycling Center in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Monday, the federal Economic Development Administration announced a $3 million grant awarded to the Borough.
Construction could begin this spring on the 23,600 square-foot building.
The Borough will own the building and the land. VCRS, Valley Community for Recycling Solutions, will manage and operate the center. The center will be on 11 acres immediately west of the Animal Care building off 49th State Street near Palmer. The center will be part of a Regional Resource Recovery & Training Park.
The center will extend the life of the Borough landfill and save taxpayer dollars. Each year more than 60,000 tons of waste is going into the Borough Landfill. VCRS seeks to divert 25 percent of the waste stream.
Mollie Boyer is director of VCRS, which has worked toward attaining a permanent recycling center for years. "This is the way solid waste management is heading. The Borough is on top of this, leading the State," Boyer said.
Sunday, Dec. 21, is the six-year anniversary of the operation of the temporary recycling center, which has no running water, and porta potties for restrooms. In 2007 the group recycled 1,050 tons, which amounted to $100,286 in revenue.
Boyer and MAT-SU Economic Development Director Dave Hanson, along with Borough Manager John Duffy, worked together to secure the funding. The lengthy grant process had to meet many criteria and pass several levels of review.
"This represents a great leap forward for recycling in our community," Hanson said. "Let's not forget the economic benefits either. There's the potential for up to 145 new spin-off jobs in new services and manufacturing." The type of work would involve recycling pickup, waste haulers, and manufacture of road and roofing materials, glass specialty products, erosion and flood control materials, insulation, reconstructed lumber, cement emulsifier, pallet construction, landscaping, among others, he said.
The recycling center construction funding includes: $1 million from the Alaska Legislature and Governor Palin, a $3 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, EDA, $2.5 million in a low interest loan to the Borough from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Interest on the loan is at 1.5 percent. The loan would be paid back by landfill tipping fees over 20 years. The MAT-SU Health Foundation also contributed $50,000. Previously, EDA contributed $50,000 toward engineering & design.
The pre-manufactured steel building will have two floors. Upstairs will be 2,600-square feet, including office space and a classroom with an overlook of the recycling plant floor. The classroom includes a workstation for research and recycled product development for engineering students from MAT-SU College and UAA. Students can learn about recycling, renewable energy, and gain hands-on experience.
Downstairs will be the recycling area. The drop-off area will be covered.
The center will be built to a LEED Gold standard, designed with energy efficiencies and sustainability, said Gary Wolf, of Wolf Architecture.
"The infrastructure is in place to allow on-site renewables such as wind turbines and photovoltaics to integrate into the electrical system," Wolf said. Wind and solar energy could power the building in the future. Starting out, the building will be on the electric power grid.
or Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan 745-9577.