By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor

Big Sky residents saw a catastrophe come and go. The recycling center almost left Town Center. Then it didn’t. Bins were scheduled for removal on Oct. 1, but a recent meeting extended recycling’s life on Aspen Leaf Drive.

Talks are in place among a team of community partners including Town Center representatives, Gallatin Solid Waste Management District Manager Jim Simon, the Big Sky Community Corp., and one unlikely player.

Bozeman Health, the entity building the Big Sky Medical Center on Lone Mountain Trail, plans on temporarily hosting the recycling site until a more comprehensive, long-term site is established, according to Tracy Reamy, hospital administrator for the Big Sky Medical Center.

“There’s no firm timeline, but we’re working with Town Center to keep recycling where it is,” Reamy said on Sept. 30. “We will be taking [recycling] at Big Sky Medical Center; it’s just a matter of time.”

The Big Sky Water and Sewer District is actively looking to acquire land adjacent to the BSWSD property, and could decide whether this site could house a permanent recycling center.

At this point, it’s unclear when recycling will find a permanent home, but community stakeholders are hopeful the issue will be resolved. In the meantime, residents and visitors must be conscious of where they dispose of recycling and garbage.

“Big Sky is the dirtiest of all the sites [we service] in Gallatin County,” said David Leverett, owner of Four Corners and Full Circle Recycling in Bozeman, the company that currently services the Big Sky recycling center.

This is due to the inability of some individuals in the community to dispose of garbage appropriately. Glass is not currently a recycled commodity in Big Sky. Don’t leave old furniture at the site; in fact, don’t leave any trash. The recycling center is not a dumpster.

Which brings us to another point: Poaching commercial dumpsters in Big Sky (or anywhere) is illegal. It can also be dangerous, says Jason Veitch, division manager at Republic Services, which picks up garbage cans once a week in Big Sky.

“Our fear is from an environmental aesthetic standpoint,” Veitch said. “[People] put this material that’s over and above what can fit in a trashcan, and they put it beside the trashcan. Conflict with bears has greatly increased.”

One additional option Big Sky residents have is curbside recycling, a convenience Republic Services could implement. For curbside recycling to be a viable option, however, at least 200 requests must be made, according to Veitch.

The company has received approximately 50 requests, Veitch said, adding that he encourages anyone interested in the service to call Republic Services at (406) 586-0606.

Republic Services estimates that, at 200 households, the cost for a 96-gallon bear-proof container would be $29 per month. “If we are in a position to be of assistance and add value on a provider service, we’ll explore it,” Veitch said.

Where the recycling center ends up in Big Sky is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, dispose of garbage and recycling in an appropriate manner. It’s a matter of public responsibility to our environment.