Dayton hopes to reuse closed landfill with solar energy, urban agriculture

The city of Dayton is looking for a company to help figure out reuse options for the former Valleycrest landfill site, which used to be on a list of the most polluted properties in the nation.

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice finalized a consent decree that requires the responsible companies to complete a $35 million cleanup of the site.

This month, the city of Dayton put out a request for professional services from consulting firms to evaluate the property and identify how it could be used for solar renewable energy projects, urban agriculture, light industrial uses and open space.

“It’s a non-contributing property — it’s not an asset — so we want to try to convert it into an asset,” said Ford Weber, Dayton’s director of economic development.

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The city prioritizes future uses for the landfill property that are consistent with some larger goals, like reducing the overall carbon footprint with renewable energy investments, according to the city’s request for proposals.

The city also says it wants to encourage growth of renewable energy jobs.

The city says it would like the consulting firm to assess the site for about 50-acres of a photo-voltaic system. Urban agriculture uses could include rain gardens, hoop houses, raised bed gardens, indigenous wildflowers and constructed wetlands.

Open spaces could include walking, biking and cross-country ski trails and prairie land and educational exhibits.

“There are a range of possibilities,” Weber said. “Solar gardens are possible, there might be some urban agriculture above ground in beddings and there might be some bicycle trails — but it would be relatively passive and benign uses of the land.”

The consultant the city selects will need to have some creativity to figure out how to best redevelop the site, given its limitations, Weber said.

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The landfill site sits at 950 Brand Pike in Old North Dayton. The property is above the Great Miami Aquifer, which is the sole source aquifer for the city of Dayton, the EPA said.

The surrounding area is a mix of urban residential and industrial uses.

“Cleaning up the Valleycrest site will spur redevelopment in Dayton and help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood,” Cathy Stepp, EPA regional administrator, said last year.

The responsible parties have agreed to install a multi-layer cap over 70 acres of the property, install and operate a system to prevent contaminated groundwater from leaving the site and a permanent landfill gas collection system, the federal agency said.

Before it was a landfill, the site was a sand and gravel quarry, and mining operations created large depressions across the site, the EPA said.

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The depressions were later used to dispose of commercial, industrial, municipal and other kinds of waste, including oils, solvents, scrap paper, asbestos-containing brake grinders, electrical transformers and sewage in unlined old gravel pits, the agency said.

The landfill accepted hazardous waste from 1965 to 1975. Valleycrest has been undergoing a massive U.S. EPA-mandated cleanup effort since the early 1990s, this newspaper previously reported.

Valleycrest was placed on the Superfund list of the nation’s most contaminated sites in 1994.

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