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Seeing Cedar Rapids from above: Tours for new Mount Trashmore slated for Saturday at EcoFest

A new pavilion atop Mount Trashmore will welcome visitors during shuttle-bus tours Saturday during Eco Fest in Cedar Rapids. Shuttle buses will run to the top of the old landfill — now capped and seeded — from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The site isn’t ready for bikes or pedestrians yet, but people can ride the shuttle bus up and check out the view before riding back down. A number of Earth Day activities are scheduled throughout the day, too, in the New Bohemia and Czech Village districts. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A new pavilion atop Mount Trashmore will welcome visitors during shuttle-bus tours Saturday during Eco Fest in Cedar Rapids. Shuttle buses will run to the top of the old landfill — now capped and seeded — from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The site isn’t ready for bikes or pedestrians yet, but people can ride the shuttle bus up and check out the view before riding back down. A number of Earth Day activities are scheduled throughout the day, too, in the New Bohemia and Czech Village districts. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Residents can get a sneak peek at the newly refined top of Cedar Rapids’ favorite trash heap, affectionately dubbed Mount Trashmore, on Saturday as part of EcoFest festivities.

The top features a recently completed landing with a pergola style pavilion with terraced seats facing the downtown Cedar Rapids skyline and the Cedar River snaking through the city.

A decorative guardrail corrals the gravel-surfaced area that also features benches, a bike rack, bushes and a few parking spots for those with disabilities.

“This will be a big draw,” said Joe Horaney, a spokesman for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. “People have been watching the work up here for the past six or eight months. Now they want to come up.”

The Mount Trashmore tours are one aspect of EcoFest, an Earth Day, environmental-focused event that goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the New Bohemia and Czech Village districts.

Events include presentations by Iowa State University graduate architectural students imagining reuses of spaces in the downtown area at 1:30 p.m. on the first floor of CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE; a demonstration of a new litter collection tool at 11 a.m. in the lawn and patio area of NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE; an Eco Fair in the NewBo City Market; and live music throughout the day.

TRASHMORE TOURS

For the Mount Trashmore tours, three shuttle buses will run continually with pickups every 10 to 15 minutes from the Geonetric parking lot at 415 12th Ave. SE. Tours will run from 10 a.m., with the last drop-off at 3:30 p.m.

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People can stay at the top as long as they like, although biking or walking up will not be allowed Saturday.

Trashmore’s upgrades have not yet been open to the public, and the area is not expected to open officially until construction of biking and walking trails are complete in late June or early July.

People have been calling regularly to confirm the top will be open this weekend, Horaney said, who gave The Gazette a preview on Thursday.

Recent rain has made the ground beyond the gravel soft and muddy, and the wind is considerably stronger than at the base. The pavilion frames the main business district of the downtown, with the NewBo area off to the left.

One also can observe the preconstruction efforts for the Czech Village flood levee project and the smoke from the city’s factories. On the other side of Mount Trashmore are rows of prime compost, which Horaney notes is available.

Mount Trashmore remains a regulated landfill site where a gas and monitoring well system is located. However, the site is safe, Horaney noted.

The landfill was capped with 4 feet of clay in 2012 and topped by vegetation. The wells and pipe system capture the methane, which is sucked out to a flare where they are destroyed, he said.

“We wouldn’t open if it wasn’t safe,” Horaney said.

ARCHITECT IDEAS

At CSPS EcoFest, visitors will have the change to expand their minds to picture what future development in Cedar Rapids can look like through the eyes of graduate students.

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In the 1:30 p.m. session at CSPS, the students will present hypothetical projects to reuse downtown spaces, incorporating ideas for integration, wellness, energy efficiency and water mitigation, with a focus on resilience, said Grant Nordby, an architect with Shive-Hattery, who is a liaison for the effort.

The session will feature three projects:

• Post-Parking, which considers converting a parking garage into live-work lofts.

• Re-engaging Cedar Rapids, which considers repurposing space for affordable housing and green energy solutions, like wind and solar.

• Urban food: Root(ed), which proposes a “closed loop lifestyle” with an aquaponics greenhouse, market and housing.

“Proposals intensify urban density, employ sustainable strategies and pitch some unique programs that may spark interest in the area,” Nordby said. “With the Guaranty block being redeveloped soon, now seems a good time to focus attention on that area’s potential.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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