Government

With fate of Marion landfill uncertain, 3 members join Solid Waste Agency board

Marion's member isn't convinced agency made 'good effort' to find another site

Trucks unload garbage Oct. 24, 1019, at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion. The landfill is projected to run out space in
Trucks unload garbage Oct. 24, 1019, at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion. The landfill is projected to run out space in about 25 years. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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MARION — The Solid Waste Agency is welcoming three new members to its nine-member board Tuesday who may have different opinions on what should happen with the Marion landfill when it reaches its capacity.

While the landfill has about 25 years left, the Solid Waste Agency board is working on a proposal to add a sixth cell to give it another 20 years of capacity. However, an agreement from 2006 requires the Marion City Council’s approval.

The Solid Waste Agency has not yet presented a proposal to Marion to expand the landfill, but a preliminary proposal offered to pay the city a fee that could total $25 million over 50 years.

If the landfill is not expanded, the agency would have to start the process of finding a new landfill to accept garbage a quarter century from now, or truck that garbage out of the area to some other facility that would accept it.

Expanding the landfill is controversial. Residents and Marion City Council members have voiced concern over the negative impact an expansion could have on a city that is quickly growing toward the landfill.

Craig Adamson, owner of True Wealth Stewardship, will join the Solid Waste Agency board as the Marion representative, replacing Terry Chew. Having a member on the board representing Marion was part of the 2006 deal.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart will replace Marty Hoeger. And Tyler Olson is replacing Susie Weinacht, who can no longer serve on the agency board because she is no longer on the Cedar Rapids City Council.

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The city of Cedar Rapids appoints six of the nine members. Terms are for three years or until the Solid Waste Agency board member’s elected term is up.

The Cedar Rapids City Council, Linn County Board of Supervisors and Marion City Council appoint members to the agency board.

Adamson, who served two terms on the Marion City Council and is on Marion’s Public Service Commission, said he is not convinced there has been “good effort made” to site a new landfill.

“I feel like the board’s job is to be looking 50 to 100 years in the future, as opposed to five to 10 years in the future,” Adamson said.

Adamson said he is not for or against expanding the landfill at this point, and is coming onto the board with “open ears, open eyes and an open mind.”

Hart, too, is looking forward to discussing all options for the landfill.

“We need to focus on all the options right now, and look at the cost of those options before we can say which is best,” Hart said, adding that the idea of exporting garbage seems “unusual.”

Olson said there are “multiple scenarios” for the landfill that could play out over the next five to 10 years, and he is looking forward to helping the board make the best decision.

A settlement agreement between Marion and the Solid Waste Agency reopened the Marion landfill after Mount Trashmore in Cedar Rapids was closed in 2006. The final elevation of the landfill was not to exceed 914 feet above sea level, and the setback of the footprint of the landfill from Artesian Road would be 1,800 feet.

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Adding another cell to the landfill would require Marion to agree to reduced setbacks. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources allows for landfill setbacks to be 500 feet from its boundary.

Another option would be permitting an alternative site for a landfill. The agency, however, is not looking at other sites, hoping there will be another solution for disposing waste in the future.

Linn County Supervisor and Solid Waste Authority Chairman Brent Oleson, who initially hoped the agency would have a proposal to present to Marion before Christmas, said he is concerned about the delayed timeline.

Oleson said the board will discuss expanding the landfill during its next meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Solid Waste Agency, 1954 County Home Road, Marion.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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