By Leigh Armstrong

The municipality is seeking contractor bids to put up the 60-by-100-foot prefabricated metal building that will house Skagway’s new composter, nearly the last step in a $660,000 project that started in 2016.

Originally, municipal public works staff was going to erect the building, but the borough decided to put the work out for bid after contractors expressed interest, said Brad Ryan, borough manager. 

Back in 2016, the original plan had the composter as part of a larger facility, including an RV park, a public works building and recycling facility in the area across from the Dyea cutoff. The initial full-scale plan from a Seattle consulting firm later was dropped, but the idea of a community composter persevered to turn food waste and other organic material into usable soil. The Skagway solid waste advisory committee is still in discussions on what will be done with the useable soil from the composter.

Public works staff has cleared the area for the composter, built the foundation for the building and is preparing to lay down the flooring.

The composter, which has been purchased and is in Washington state, cost $180,000 and will arrive when the building is completed. Tyson Ames, Skagway’s director of public works, said the project should be completed by mid-January.

“We hope to have it (the composter) show up as the building is constructed, so there isn’t a need to store it,” Ames said. 

The project’s total budget is $660,000. 

The composter is part of a larger goal in reducing waste in Skagway. According the solid waste and recycling management plan for Skagway, 32.3 percent of all waste in Skagway is compostable and 34.3 percent of trash is recyclable. 

The composter will add a commercial-grade option for residents that’s easy to use and will lessen the load on the community’s incinerator, Ryan said. The solid waste advisory committee is deciding if there will be a drop-off fee, Ames said.

While there’s no plan for a new recycling facility, Ryan said one of his goals would be to create a one-stop shop for recyclables and waste, to act as a transfer station while upgrading or replacing the incinerator is considered. The municipality has opened a request for proposals for an evaluation of the incinerator’s condition. 

Skagway recycles aluminum, cardboard, batteries and e-waste by shipping the material to Seattle for processing. Glass is recycled by crushing it and using it for fill, Ames said. 

Contractors interested in bidding for construction of the composter building can email m.gihl@skagway.org for a copy of bid documents. All bids must be received by the municipality by Oct. 29.