County to buy landfill for $1.5M

Part of 74-acre site, closed since 1991, will be used for road

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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Clark County commissioners Tuesday approved the purchase of the closed Leichner Landfill and surrounding land for $1.5 million.

“By moving ahead now, we can bring this land into productive re-use,” said Jeffrey Mize, a spokesman for the county public works department.

The county had an option to purchase the landfill for $1, but it wouldn’t kick in until the county’s public health office declared the land to be stable.

“If we waited until the $1 option was available, we could be waiting a long time,” Mize said. Without the option, the land is valued at $5.45 million.

The sale agreement for the 74-acre landfill and additional 46 acres won’t be final for at least a year because the county has to work out details with the Washington Department of Ecology.

Local garbage fees that can only be spent on landfills contribute $1.2 million toward the purchase price. The remaining $349,500 comes from the county’s road fund. The deal includes 11 acres for a planned extension of 99th Street from Northeast 94th Avenue east to Northeast 104th Avenue.

The deal also includes a 35-acre site south of the landfill, known as the Koski property, which could be put to use right away. The Koski site is mostly flat and zoned for light industry.

The landfill was closed in 1991, but it still leaches gas from the garbage dumped there over five decades.

“It’s continuing to settle. The waste buried there is continuing to decompose. It’s continuing to produce methane gas,” Mize said.

The county will carry a $40 million insurance policy to protect against environment liability.

“We haven’t run into any problems in 20 years, and it’s unlikely some unforeseen environmental problem will spring up,” Mize said.

Any new use of the property would have to comply with legal requirements for maintenance and monitoring of the closed landfill.

“No re-uses have been set at this point,” Mize said. “We plan on doing an extensive master planning process with the community.”

For more information, visit http://www.clark.wa.gov/recycle/leichner.html.