Former landfill to be remade into public park

By Eric Heisig

The city of Champaign is in the process of developing a plan to turn a local landfill into a park.

The Champaign Landfill Reuse Park Plan was designed to redevelop the Former Champaign Municipal Landfill, a 90-acre area on the north side of Route 150 between the city of Champaign and the village of Mahomet.

The project is designed to make use of the space occupied by a landfill that was closed in 1997. Since then, work has been done to cover up the site.

Eleanor Blackmon, assistant city engineer for Champaign, said the city is required to have at least two feet of clay and six inches of topsoil to cover up the former landfill contents. This is to protect a number of things, including storm water, which could be contaminated by the contents of the landfill.

“The water gets contaminated, and if it builds up enough water, it ultimately has to get out,” Blackmon said. “Then we would be dealing with water that has been in contact with the waste.”

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The city has also been testing the site’s groundwater regularly since its closure, and according to its Web site, the landfill has not had any leakage problems.

A meeting was held in January for the public to generate ideas for the site. Mishauno Woggon, Champaign city planner, said the meeting produced some good ideas.

Among the ideas being considered for the property is having a naturalized prairie and a wildlife habitat with educational kiosks around the land for information, Woggon said. Other ideas include picnic and rest areas, a dog park, a Frisbee golf course, a BMX track and paths for running and walking.

However, the landfill site is only allowed to be used for certain things, so all of these ideas need to be approved for use by environmental regulation agencies said Nick Schneider, geologist and consultant for the project.

Schneider said there are a few things, such as building a lake or a pond, that are not allowed to be done.

“You can’t do anything that would erode the cover,” he said.

Schneider said none of the proposed uses should cause any problems if they are constructed in the right way.

Nevertheless, Woggon said the whole project is on track to be completed by April or May. The city will have three to five designs for the park to choose from, all from the Hitchcock Design Group. The park will be owned by the city of Champaign, but leased to and run by the Champaign Park District.

“We plan to implement its new uses, along with the development and construction the park district has taken into consideration,” Woggon said.

The next meeting for planning the project will be held March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Champaign Public Library.