CONWAY — Eleven multi-purpose fields, eight softball and baseball diamonds, camping sites, biking and horse trails and educational trails are some of the ideas tossed out Thursday as land use possibilities for the Horry County landfill, once it’s capped more than 20 years from now.
More than 30 members of the public and public officials met for a roundtable discussion at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority offices Thursday to begin planning for what to do when the landfill is full, which is projected for 2035. A total of about 1,700 acres – around 45 percent of which are wetlands – are on the solid waste authority’s property, and officials are leaning toward doing something with the land instead of simply maintaining the ground when it is closed.
“There’s two possibilities, and one is very cheap,” said Danny Knight, executive director of the authority. “We could buy a $40 chain and a $2 lock and put it across the driveway... or we could take the position that the public will utilize these properties... We want you to be very open... That’s what we’re here for, to listen and to learn.”
About $118 million in current and future funds designated to maintain the landfill until 2065 sits on the table for these plans. The monies have been generated and will continue to be generated from fees collected at the landfill.
Horry County’s landfill on S.C. 90 is one of nine landfills statewide owned by local governments. Fourteen others are privately owned.
Before a landfill like Horry County’s is approved by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, a landfill owner is required to have funding to not only properly close it, but also to monitor and fix environmental problems that could occur, according to the department’s website.
When a landfill is closed, it must be capped with a layer of clay, a plastic liner and a layer of soil . The cap is to be seeded to grow grass, according to DHEC. The Horry County landfill, which runs north at S.C. 90, east at International Drive, south at the Clear Pond area and west to the Wild Wing area, will have to be monitored for 30 years and its maintenance paid for by funds saved by the local government.
Five laminated oversized posters were on display at Thursday’s meeting and were a culmination of 10 months of research on the property and what other landfills have done nationwide with their capped landfills.
James “Mike” Wooten, president of DDC Engineers, said his company has contracted with the county for more than two decades and is taking the lead on this project.
“We’re not inventing the wheel,” he said. “We’re not even re-inventing the wheel here.”
Wooten said research shows municipalities begin planning for the closure of landfills between 10 and 20 years ahead of their projected filling.
“We clearly understand the opportunities and strengths associated with the project,” Wooten said. “This is one step in a multiple step process.”
Dan Lambert, senior landscape architect and site planner at The LandArt Company, which is a subsidiary of DDC Engineers, said
“What you do see is very conceptual,” Lambert said. “Everything up here is kind of a dream, at this point.”
That dream includes fishing ponds, areas to kayak and canoe, an archery range, a bird-watching overlook an open-air amphitheater and more.
Several ideas were brought forth by community members, including community activist Bo Ives, who suggested placing a station on the grounds for alternative energy.
“We can look at solar energy and wind energy. We already have a facility creating power,” Ives said referencing the electricity generated via methane gas through a partnership the solid waste authority has with Santee Cooper. Ives also suggested placing buffers around the property to help contain wildfires, if one should occur on the property.
Jon Bonsignor, president of Sav-R-Cats, said he wanted to make sure the county developed a plan for animals who will migrate from the landfill. Others asked whether the planned bodies of water would be connected for kayaking and canoe trails and for longer bicycle trails.
Knight said he thought the meeting was informative and the public brought up some great ideas to consider.
“I think it went great, and we had a lot of great comments,” he said. “Our next step is to come back with a plan, put this together, come back to our board, invite the public and make a presentation.”
He said no matter what the first plan calls for, there could be many changes to come.
“What we approve in 30 days may not be what we do 30 years from now. Things could change,” Knight said. “This isn’t the final tombstone. It’s a work in progress.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.