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New facility at base of Mount Trashmore will have restrooms, meeting room

'948' building part of $1.6M project to make old landfill site safer for hikers, bikers

This is the 5,000-square-foot pole building at the base of Mount Trashmore in Cedar Rapids that will become a new recreational facility under a $1.6 million plan being considered by the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency board.  (Shive-Hattery Architecture & Engineering)
This is the 5,000-square-foot pole building at the base of Mount Trashmore in Cedar Rapids that will become a new recreational facility under a $1.6 million plan being considered by the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency board. (Shive-Hattery Architecture & Engineering)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A new recreational facility is being planned at the base of Mount Trashmore for users of cycling and hiking trails there and where residents can reserve space for meetings and educational programs.

The facility, dubbed the “948” building as a nod to the 948-foot elevation, is part of a $1.6 million project that also should make the old landfill site safer for hikers, bikers and motor vehicle traffic by better separating them.

“The goal is to, once we have a segregation of traffic, to have more people come in and use the facility and the trails,” said Karmin McShane, the executive director of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, which manages Mount Trashmore.

A public hearing on plans and specifications for the project is scheduled for an agency board meeting Aug. 20.

The board already has authorized the spending, and a contract award is expected at the September board meeting. The project could begin by October and be complete before June 1, 2020.

The landfill opened in 1965 and closed permanently in 2013. Composting operations continue. Trails and a scenic overlook — considered perhaps the best view in Cedar Rapids — opened in fall 2018.

“This is the next step in the process of transforming Mount Trashmore,” said Joe Horaney, a spokesman for the solid waste agency.

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The latest project would repurpose a 5,000-square-foot pole building built in 1992 near the trail head.

Cyclists could pedal directly inside the building through garage doors where they would check in for trail use. Because it is a former landfill, the site is federally regulated such that trail use is allowed only when the site is open and staffed. Users must sign in, although use is free.

Fans would help people cool off in a large main area that also will include a bike tool stand, pumps and a hydration station. The facility would provide public restrooms and a prep kitchen.

The agency’s recreation coordinator, Zac Hornung, who oversees trail use, would have an office there. A reservable multipurpose space would be available for small events, educational programming or meetings.

“I think it will be really popular,” McShane said. “We will have a formal parking lot. I think there will be strong demand for it to host meetings.”

Because the building is so large, the design includes a storage space that could be repurposed for a future use. Planners originally considered building a new space about half the size until recognizing the potential of the pole building.

“We determined that for less cost and a faster schedule, we can use the existing building,” said Doyle Harper, an architect for Shive-Hattery working on the design. “We are keeping everything pretty much as is with a new exterior on it.”

Recycled tires and milk jugs make up material that would be applied over a portion of the metal siding.

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Dirt paths and separate entrances for bikes and motorized vehicles also would be added. The scale house would be relocated to guide waste haulers away from trail users.

Since opening day May 15, 2,091 visitors have used the three trails and pavilion this year, and an additional 1,000 people toured Mount Trashmore during EcoFest in April.

Future considerations include demolition work and the relocation of the maintenance shop, with more trails to be added, McShane said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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