The Kent County Department of Public Works is planning the construction of a Sustainable Business Park that would house multiple recycling companies. It recently received a $95,000 site readiness grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
WGVU spoke with Dar Baas, Director of the Kent County Department of Public Works, about how that money will be used.
“We purchased the property with the intention of expanding the South Kent Landfill one day, and we’re there. We’re within 10 years of the South Kent Landfill being full. We have placed seven million tons of refuse there and the thinking here is, are we going to continue to do that, or are we going to shift gears and do something very different...The readiness grant is really exciting because what it allows us to do is to start taking a deeper dive on the property itself. To take a look at topography, to look at boundaries in terms of surveys. We own roughly 250 acres out there, but the property was purchased over a number of years, so to be able to look at it holistically. To think about how we’re going to develop it, where things are going to be located, surveys, thinking through engineering and plans, where we’re going to bring in water, sewer in, those types of things is what the MEDC is supporting for us.”
Is the Sustainable Business Park a unique project or has it been done elsewhere? If so, what are some of the challenges and opportunities?
“The Sustainable Business Park is truly a brand-new perspective on how to manage solid, municipal waste. We believe we’re on the cutting-edge of this. We’ve seen individual facilities be sited in different communities, but we’ve never seen an approach that allows multiple facilities and technologies to be gathered in one area to address the burgeoning municipal solid waste problem that we have here in West Michigan and in Kent County. So, from that perspective it’s very new. It’s really, for sure, a model for the state of Michigan and we hope the sustainable materials management approach that we’re taking can really shift the paradigm on how we manage waste here.”