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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — More than one business, organization or individual has expressed interest in leasing the Dunn County transfer station formerly operated by Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling east of Menomonie on state Highway 29.
Scott Nabbefeld, Dunn County facilities director, reported to the Dunn County Facilities Committee at the November 30 meeting that he had started meeting with Nick Lange, Dunn County corporation counsel, about the process for leasing the transfer station.
Lange is working on researching the liability of the county for leasing out the facility, Nabbefeld said.
One question that has been asked is — would leasing the transfer station have to go out for bid? And the answer is — yes. The lease of the transfer station would go out for bid the same way as any project or purchase the county would be involved with, he said.
Don Kuether, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee, asked if there is more than one party interested in leasing the transfer station.
Yes, there is more than one, Nabbefeld said.
Would it be possible to issue a “request for interest” to compile a list of all the interested parties so they “could be brought to the table?” asked Mike Rogers, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the facilities committee.
By making the public aware that the transfer station is available for lease, then Dunn County could work with all the interested parties and perhaps facilitate them working together, he said.
There are probably multiple parties with different interests and different uses who want to lease the transfer station, and perhaps there is the possibility of cooperation among them which could result in a joint lease, Rogers said.
Finding out the level of interest might help to expedite the county’s position and optimize the interest, he said.
Trying to gauge the level interest would be something to explore, Nabbefeld said, adding that several parties have expressed interest in working with someone else.
What they want to do with the transfer station might be too much for one party, but they might work together with other interests and other partners, and that might work out better for all of them, he said.
What about holding a public meeting about interest in the transfer station? asked Ann Vogl, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee.
Nabbefeld said he would find out what has been done in the past.
If there was a public meeting to gauge interest, people would come to express their support for something to do be done with the transfer station, not necessarily for them to do something, but to say they would support what someone else would do, such as a public recycling facility, he said.
From a financial industry point of view, gathering indicators of interest is common for offering stocks or bonds for sale, said Tim Lienau, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee.
Would the lease of the transfer station be opened up to all of Wisconsin? Regionally? Locally? Lienau asked.
“How wide a net do we want to toss?” he asked.
For any solicitation of interest, the county must express the limitations for the transfer station, Rogers said, adding that there could never be a grocery store, for example, on the transfer station site.
Public interest becomes elevated as “things happen,” and members of the public are either upset, happy or involved, he said.
Finding out the opinion of members of the public would be useful in moving forward on leasing the transfer station, Rogers said.
Dunn County would not be involved in any operations that would take place at the transfer station, Rogers said.
Nabbefeld agreed that Dunn County would have no involvement in the transfer station’s future operations other than leasing the property.
Kuether said that was his understanding as well — the preference is to lease the transfer station but to have no county involvement in the operations.
It would be useful to find out what services could be expanded upon, such as the collection of plastic bags, he said.
The facilities committee must be careful in talking about services offered because it is unlikely there will be a recycling center or public drop-off, although there may be services offered for a fee, Rogers said.
The public might not view the purpose for which the transfer station is leased to be as advantageous as they want, but it would be an upgrade over what is available now, he said.
The more input and the more interest that is generated now, the better it will be at the end, Rogers said.
The main goal is to lease the transfer station, Kuether said.
Nabbefeld said he would continue meeting with Lange every three weeks about the lease of the transfer station and that he would find out what has been done in the past for gauging public interest when the county has been leasing or selling property.
Dunn County SW&R ceased operations on December 31, 2020.