Dane Co. landfill eyes golf course as it runs out of space

Dane Co. officials are proposing a landfill expansion into a public golf course, with plans to turn a part of it into a “sustainability campus.”
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:36 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane Co. officials are proposing a landfill expansion into a public golf course, with plans to turn a part of it into a “sustainability campus.”

The Rodefeld Landfill sits along Highway 12/18. According to John Welch, director of the county’s department of waste and renewables, it will become full within a decade. His pitch is to find the additional landfill space at the Yahara Hills Golf Course, a 36-hole property owned by the City of Madison. It’s located across the street from the landfill.

“The rule of thumb is it takes approximately 10 years to decide a new landfill, so it sounds like it’s a ways off, but it’s something we need to get started on now,” he explained.

The first phase of the plan is to turn half of the golf course into a campus that includes an educational center, administrative offices, composting site and a businesses park that would create jobs diverting waste. Welch said the additional landfill would have enough space until 2045.

"Sustainability Campus" proposal for Yahara Hills Golf Course
"Sustainability Campus" proposal for Yahara Hills Golf Course(Courtesy of Dane Co.)

The city’s Board of Park Commissioners heard the presentation Wednesday night.

“The city’s interest in the project really is a matter of meeting our goals around sustainability,” Charlie Romines, the city’s streets and urban forestry superintendent, said.

He also pointed to a city task force, which previously recommended closing half of the holes at Yahara Hills.

“If we don’t have this project site at where it is, we are going to spend, quite bluntly, hundreds of thousands of dollars trucking trash 200,000 miles a round trip longer than it needs to be to make our solid waste and trash some other community’s problem,” Romines said.

The first phase would cost about $32 million, according to Welch. He said that amount will come from the landfill’s own pockets, not taxpayers’.

“We aren’t happy with just continuing to bury garbage in the landfill. That’s not what we as a community want to stand for, and that’s not what our residents want either,” Welch continued.

In a joint statement with the county, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison, another neighbor to the landfill, said it supports the expansion. Executive Manager Daniel Brown wrote in part, “Traditional ecological knowledge imparts the need for building resilience and sustainability to assure balance in our ecosystem for future generations. The changes in land use on Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s neighboring city property for this project intends to achieve that.”

This winter, county officials say they will be moving resolutions through various committees. If approved, they will work to build a part of the campus in the next few years and, within the nexteight years, start construction on the additional landfill.

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