Windsor to reconsider the town’s $52 million garbage contract
Just when it seemed Windsor had a new garbage hauling company for the next 10 years, the Town Council has had a change of heart, upending a multimillion dollar deal it struck last month over one of the town’s most basic municipal functions.
The move reflects political and legal hurdles facing a proposed Petaluma recycling transfer station proposed by the new operator and comes as Santa Rosa weighs its options for a new garbage contract, one of the most lucrative services that local cities outsource.
The Windsor Council on Tuesday night voted 4-1 to reconsider the contract it awarded to Green Waste Recovery Inc., citing unresolved issues over the company’s proposed Petaluma transfer station, including its proximity to residences.
As a result, four other companies that initially bid for the contract will have another shot at hauling Windsor’s commercial and residential refuse and reaping at least $52 million in revenue over 10 years.
Windsor Councilman Sam Salmon, who initially voted May 17 to award the town’s contract to Green Waste, was the one who requested his colleagues reconsider their 3-2 vote, citing new information, including the proximity of homes to the Petaluma site.
In a brief interview prior to Tuesday’s council meeting, Salmon, who is an attorney, said choosing Green Waste with the associated objections to the Petaluma facility may involve “more risk in terms of litigation.
“There seems to be legal vulnerability on anything surrounding waste at this point,” he added.
The council’s reversal came amid threats of litigation over the lack of an environmental review for the Petaluma transfer site, as well as a letter from three Petaluma City Council members raising objections.
Although the site at 879 and 901 Lindberg Lane in Petaluma is zoned for industrial uses, council members there raised the specter of groundwater contamination and noted that it is directly next door to an occupied home. The 4-acre site also is across the street from retail and office uses, and close to a youth-oriented gymnastics facility.
“Although the site is relatively close to both the East Washington and Lakeville Highway interchanges on Highway 101, the surface streets connecting both intersections to the Lindberg Lane site suffer serious congestion. Traffic circulation is a serious concern,” Petaluma Council members Mike Healy, Gabe Kearney and Kathy Miller wrote to their counterparts in Windsor.
But their letter was in contrast to the position of Petaluma Mayor David Glass who went to Windsor two weeks ago to support Green Waste’s bid for the contract, saying the San Jose-based company was “first class” and delivered “really good service” when it was Petaluma’s hauler.
Windsor’s bidding process has been closely watched by Santa Rosa because many of the same players and issues have been involved as both cities look to renew their expiring garbage contracts.
The Ratto Group, the same company that holds Windsor’s expiring lease, also has a contract with Santa Rosa that runs out at the end of the year.
Santa Rosa winnowed the field of bidders down to two finalists: Green Waste and Waste Management, the nation’s largest garbage company.
Windsor’s other top choice was Sonoma County Resource Recovery, owned by Garden City Group, Marin Sanitary Service Group and its president Kevin Walbridge.