Permit sale rekindles talk of waste


Sale of a waste-handling business has resurrected discussion of consolidating service in Haines.

Acme Transfer owner Paul Nelson has agreed to sell Acme’s utility permit to Tom Hall, owner of Community Waste Solutions. In addition, Nelson sold Hall some of the equipment associated with his waste-hauling business, including a backhoe, conveyor and scale.

Nelson also recently entered an agreement of sale to transfer the Bigfoot Auto Service building and its gas pumps to local business owner Mike Ward.

“I didn’t expect they would sell,” Nelson said. “I was kind of testing the market and the two offers came in almost simultaneously.”

The transfer of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska utility permit from Acme to CWS means CWS now holds both utility permits in the borough. CWS office manager Sally Garton said she and Nelson feel it is in the best interest of the community to combine both permits to provide “more comprehensive service.”

“The convenience of being able to dispose of all recycling and waste materials in one place is a huge benefit to our community. We are currently exploring options for opening a centrally located transfer station and welcome any thoughts the community may have,” Garton said.

The consolidation of the permits could pave the way for streamlining solid waste management in the borough, said former assembly member Debra Schnabel, who championed universal service and drafted a solid waste management plan for consideration by the borough’s Commerce Committee.

The plan’s premise was that every residence, business, nonprofit, government and harbor slip holder in the borough either pay for curbside garbage collection or pay a lower rate to retain the ability to haul their own garbage. By distributing the costs over the entire community, rates would go down, and by making the service mandatory, illegal dumping would be disincentivized. The borough would contract with a private company, which would provide the service.

“Everybody needs to buy into it for it to work right,” Schnabel said.

The plan fell off the radar when Schnabel decided not to run to retain her assembly seat, though two candidates (Margaret Friedenauer and Jerry Lapp) said during their campaigns that they wanted to make the issue a priority.

Schnabel said she believes CWS owning both permits represents an opportunity for the borough to be proactive about the town’s solid waste problem.

The two permits previously caused the borough to be reticent about choosing a provider, she said.

“Without other options, the Haines Borough can take a much more proactive approach to solving the issue of universal collection. It’s an opportunity to collaborate with a permit holder so you don’t have dirty diapers washing up at your favorite fishing hole or trash on the walking trails in the woods,” Schnabel said.

The nonprofit Haines Friends of Recycling doesn’t hold an RCA permit for collecting refuse in the borough.

Mike Ward this week declined to comment on his plans for the gas station.

Nelson said he will continue to sell auto parts out of the Acme Transfer building near the intersection of Main Street and Haines Highway. Bigfoot will also continue running school buses under contract.

Nelson said there are “numerous reasons” he put the majority of the two businesses up for sale.

“I’ve been at it for 37 years,” he said. “I’m tired of fighting with the borough. The borough is completely anti-business in every aspect of their being. They’ve repeatedly been anti-business and anti-planning.”


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