Marcus Larson / News-Register##The recycling floor of Recology s facility on Orchard Avenue. Recology is looking to add to the facility to allow for further sorting of recycling and to divert more trash from landfills.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##The recycling floor of Recology's facility on Orchard Avenue. Recology is looking to add to the facility to allow for further sorting of recycling and to divert more trash from landfills.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##McMinnville City Council members decided on a light, rather than a roundabout, at Fifth and Lafayette.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##McMinnville City Council members decided on a light, rather than a roundabout, at Fifth and Lafayette.
By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Council opts for light, hears about transfer station

It also heard a presentation from Fred Stemmler on Recology Western Oregon’s plans to begin moving forward on development of a transfer station on Orchard Avenue. That would enable it to transfer waste into long-haul trucks for transport to distant disposal sites in the event Riverbend Landfill, which is nearing capacity, ends up closing.

Although the roundabout idea enjoyed broad support with councilors, the extra $500,000 cost and the impact it would have on surrounding streets and property ruled it out for them.

Councilor Scott Hill said he still wanted a statement piece so that people visiting the Northeast Gateway District would know about it, but agreed the light was the better choice in this situation. Council President Kevin Jeffries, who chaired in the absence of Mayor Rick Olson, compared looking at the roundabout idea like test driving a Porsche but ultimately settling with the mini-van because it’s what is needed.

The staff ultimately came around to recommending light as well, after talks with the McMinnville School District, which owns the neighboring Cook School, indicated buying up land for the roundabout would hinder future district plans.

On the waste front, Stemmler described company plans to expand recycling service in the city. He said that would dictate expansion of its current facility on Orchard Avenue, even if it were not the logical place to develop a transfer station.

Stemmler said expanding the recycling program to include curbside collection of glass and better sorting of materials would divert more waste from ending up at the landfill. A larger sorting facility would allow the company to sort the waste better The Department of Environmental Quality enacted new aspirational goals this year for waste diversion to reduce waste headed toward landfills.

In addition to the improved recycling sorting facility, Stemmler said Recology is investigating alternatives to Riverbend Landfill as a final resting place for its trash. He noted its contract with Riverbend would have expired, but had been extended to permit continuing negotiations.

Riverbend Landfill, operated by Waste Management which collects trash in Newberg, Dundee and the Portland Metro area, is nearing capacity, and its effort to expand the landfill has been bogged down in the courts. Stemmler said he needed to plan for the possibility that the landfill may close.

McMinnville and the western part of the county send their trash straight to Riverbend, but sending collected trash elsewhere would require changes and permits to Recology’s Orchard Avenue facility.

Last year, it submitted plans to add a transfer station there, but placed them on hold as the county approved Riverbend’s expansion. Stemmler indicated Recology was poised to resubmit them in the near future.

The council applauded the idea of sending the city’s trash somewhere besides Riverbend.

In the past, the council has opposed Riverbend’s expansion, submitting letters against landfill expansion. It also turned down a $10,000 grant offered by Waste Management to Yamhill County cities, the only city in the county to do so.

Less than 20 percent of the trash headed to Riverbend originates in Yamhill County. And both the closure of SP Newsprint and potential diversion of McMinnville waste elsewhere could bring that figure down significantly.

In other business, the council:

n Heard a presentation from Waste Zero, which talked about its trash collection and diversion activities at a number of city festivals this past year. It said its activities diverted most of the waste from those festivals into recycling and composting channels.

Waste Zero also alerted the council that it would be pursuing a ban on retailers using plastic bags in the city. It cited the examples of other cities, such as Portland, San Francisco, Eugene and Corvallis, that have enacted similar bans.

It presented a timeline for moving toward an ordinance banning plastic bags. Waste Zero would meet with local business owners over the first half of next year, hold public forums in April and October 2016, and present an ordinance to the council in November. It hopes to have it enacted by April 2017.

n Spent two hours deliberating and interviewing candidates for two city committees. It ultimately appointed Stemmler to the Budget Committee and Rebecca Quandt of the McMinnville Downtown Association to the Historic Preservation Committee.

n Approved franchise agreements with Online Northwest and Astound, two telecommunications operators in the city.

n Approved funds from the Urban Renewal Agency to add on two additional blocks to already approved Alpine Avenue improvements.


E.J. Farrar

It's smart to plan ahead and start developing a transfer station. Waste Management will pull the plug eventually.


I think they made the wrong decision with the traffic light. I know the added cost and inconvenience during construction would be problematic, but it really would be far superior in the long run. It's too bad they couldn't find a way to do it.


I think "the light" was the prudent response. There is very little problem with that intersection during most of the day. I hope (and expect) the light is a "smart light" that only activates when needed so as not to affect the flow of traffic on Lafayette Ave. During most of the day there is usually no one at that intersection trying to cross or get onto Lafayette Ave.


The decision to place the light at fifth street is disturbing in as much as it demonstrates that whoever is making these decisions is clueless and uneducated as to what the actual needs of the community..looks like we have those with the need to be seen and heard without knowledge of the needs..if you were to place a light on Lafayette it would be placed where the highest traffic 8th and Lafayette, there is a much needed light..and also a path our county police officers take from the anyone to determine otherwise..maybe we need to take a look at how in the world these people were placed into this position which they obviously have no reason to belong in..

Jeb Bladine

The light at 5th has to be considered in context of the overall downtown project.

Fifth will become more of a major east-west artery -- something not wanted for a residential area such as 8th Street. There will be lights at either end of the corridor between Lafayette and Baker on 5th, including a new light at Baker Street. And, I believe, moving the light at 4th and Adams north to 5th Street.

The round-about might have been a nice feature to slow traffic at 5th and Lafayette, providing smooth entry into the Granary District at 7th street. But it was going to be very expensive, and eat up lots of adjacent real estate. It would have been a high-risk decision by the council, and going with a light was prudent as Kona says.

Here's hoping the overall impact of multiple downtown projects under the transportation bond issue improves some dangerous traffic flow situations. Now, if only there were good solutions to the growing downtown parking shortage.


I believe a traffic light at Fifth will offer the added benefit of relief at Eighth, as it will provided needed breaks in Lafayette Avenue congestion, enabling left-turn drivers from Eighth to Lafayette to proceed with minimal delay.


I hope the light on 5th works with the east/west artery plan for 5th. It will be only a block and a half, and not a long block, from the light on 3rd. When there is a lot of traffic on Lafayette, it will be a receipt of grid lock. I'm sure the traffic folks will work on that. That problem solved, I think it is the best solution.

Don Iler

A roundabout would have eliminated access to 7th Street from Lafayette. Those wanting to access the Granary District, Northeast Gateway would have had to use 8th Street.