Recycling center at Willits in Basalt gets extended through January

The public, drop-off recycling center in Willits will remain open through January while the long-term fate of midvalley recycling is pondered, officials have announced.

The town of Basalt said on its website that it worked with Waste Management to keep the facility located at 15 Park Ave. open through Jan. 31.

Eagle County and Basalt officials will meet Thursday to discuss possible directions for the recycling program, according to Kris Widlak, Eagle County director of communications.

The fate of the popular site has been in doubt after Pitkin County announced it would pull funding starting in 2020. Waste Management required a subsidy of $60,000 to operate the facility in 2019, citing low prices for recycled materials. Pitkin County and Basalt split the fee for 2019. Basalt officials said they couldn’t afford the entire $60,000 subsidy in 2020 and budgeted $30,000 for other green initiatives instead.

Midvalley residents have lobbied Eagle County government to get involved in a solution. The county partners with towns in the Eagle Valley on recycling efforts. The towns provide drop-off sites and the county hauls materials to its landfill in Wolcott for processing.

Whatever the solution, it’s going to be expensive. Waste Management now says the subsidy to operate its Willits facility throughout 2020 would be $120,000 due to the economic state of recyclables.

Public officials have said residents might have to bite the bullet and pay for curbside recycling rather than rely on a drop-off site. However, residents of rural Eagle County in Missouri Heights said it would cost them about $288 per year to add curbside recycling.