By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Plans are being developed by Big Sky Town Center and the Big Sky Natural Resource Council to relocate the community’s recycling center, currently on Aspen Leaf Drive.

The recycling bins sit on land owned by the Simkins family – developers of Town Center – in a 60-foot road right-of-way. This is not a location where you typically see recycling bins, according to Town Center Project Manager Ryan Hamilton, who also noted looming development pressure with residential homes planned for the adjacent land.

“We knew upfront it wouldn’t be the final resting place,” Hamilton said.

The bins have been in the current location for nearly six years and were previously located near the Exxon on Highway 191 on land donated by real estate developer Gene Cook, according to Dave Leverett, co-owner of Four Corners Recycling, which services the site.

Town Center initially set a hard deadline for the bins to be removed by Feb. 15 of this year, but extended the date indefinitely, pending an effective relocation strategy.

On Feb. 25, members of the BSNRC met with representatives from the Big Sky Owners Association, Town Center, Four Corners Recycling, the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District, the Gallatin Solid Waste Management District, and Republic Services to review progress for a new site.

The group is looking to engineer a plan that’s both attractive and functional.

Ophir School and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital were approached about the possibility of hosting a temporary recycling site, but both declined.

An approximately 1.5-acre parcel of land near the Water and Sewer treatment plant, located along the east boundary of the sewer ponds, is being considered for the new facility. Local developer Scott Altman owns the proposed land.

“It’s the only [site] we’ve been able to find,” said Leverett, adding that after 1.5 years of exploring recycling site relocation options, Altman is the only landowner to consider the proposal.

A new site would host compactor bins that would make for a cleaner site with greater capacity, and could mean fewer trips up the canyon for Four Corners Recycling, according to Jim Simon, district manager for the Gallatin Solid Waste Management District.

A proposal for the new facility will be presented to the Big Sky Water and Sewer Board at its March 17 meeting. The meeting is open to the public.

In addition to the recycling drop-off site, the BSNRC is also working to develop a curbside recycling program, which requires a minimum of 250 accounts, and the number of accounts would determine the price for users.

“It’s more expensive but it does increase the total volume of recycling coming in,” Leverett said. “It’s one of the systems that appeals to people who are willing to pay to have it be picked up.”

But it’s unlikely that the high cost of curbside service would completely replace the drop-off site.

Suzan Scott, Executive Director of the Big Sky Owners Association also said the drop-off site would be beneficial for second homeowners who might not be in Big Sky on pick-up days, or don’t want to pay for curbside service year round.

A long-term facility is likely by spring or summer of 2016, if the new site is approved, according to Ron Edwards, general manager of the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District.