Landfill’s retail store could be reality by next summer

$1.5 million ‘material reuse center’ on target at Pitkin County Landfill

Thrifty Pitkin County residents looking to cash-in on the perpetual thirst for high-end construction projects in the Aspen area will likely have another outlet to peruse by next summer.

Called “The Motherlode Mercantile,” the 4,000-square-foot “material reuse center” is set to be built at the Pitkin County Landfill with $1.5 million of landfill-generated funds. It is part of an effort to squeeze as many years as possible out of the rapidly filling facility.

“We wanted to enhance our ability to keep these materials out of the landfill,” said Michael Port, a construction and demolition debris diversion specialist at the landfill. “This will operate like a retail store.”

The Motherlode Mercantile will expand the landfill’s current “Drop and Swap” diversion program, where Roaring Fork Valley residents can drop off hard-to-recycle items like furniture and take other available items for free, Port said.

Similar to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Glenwood Springs, Pitkin County’s store will offer furniture, building materials like lighting and plumbing fixtures, reusable lumber and doors and windows, as well as cabinets, landscaping materials, decorative items and sporting goods like skis, he said.

People who drop-off items would make a donation and receive a tax credit, said Cathy Hall, Pitkin County’s solid waste director. Staff would screen the items for sale, price them, track inventory closely and set up a web page with highlighted items. The goal is to become another self-sufficient business unit at the landfill like the compost program.

Pitkin County Commissioner Francie Jacober asked Tuesday during the board’s weekly work session whether the store would compete with Habitat For Humanity’s outlet.

Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director, said that after speaking with ReStore representatives, county officials discovered that Pitkin County’s store would likely attract a different customer. The ReStore tends to accept and sell only the best of the best reusable materials available in the valley, while The Motherlode Mercantile will likely have lower-priced items, he said.

“It’s more of a partnership with them,” Pettet said. “They could even turn us on to some items they don’t want.”

The new store at the landfill was slated to cost the county three full-time employees — a supervisor and two retail workers — in addition to the more than $1.5 million in estimated construction costs.

Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper balked at hiring three new employees, suggesting that landfill officials start with two and see how the situation works out. Commissioner Greg Poschman also wondered if three employees were necessary off the bat.

The new facility will also include a 2,000-square-foot household hazardous waste facility, which is currently housed in a temporary tent. It will feature fire suppression, spill containment and ventilation controls for safely handling hazardous waste.

Landfill officials estimate that construction on the new facility could begin in the spring and be completed by summer.

The store is an outgrowth of efforts to keep Pitkin County’s landfill open for as many years as possible. It is directly related to a new rule adopted last year called the Construction and Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance that requires applicants for building or demolition permits to pay a deposit depending on the size of the project.

If the applicant recycles or reuses at least 25% of waste generated by the project, the deposit is fully refunded.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the expansion is not being built with taxpayer money but money generated by the landfill.