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Florence council expected to approve contract today for closure of landfill
By Robert Palmer - TNValleyNow.com

FLORENCE — The long and expensive process of closing and monitoring the city’s sanitary landfill could be formalized today.

The City Council is expected to approve a contract with Joyce Engineering, of Greensboro, N.C., during today’s meeting. The contract does not have a set price but is based on a fee schedule. However, city officials have said the estimated cost of closing and monitoring the landfill is about $2 million over 30 years.

The landfill was closed a year ago after a long council impasse over whether to continue using it or closing it. After the last open cell was filled with household and commercial garbage, officials were forced to close the landfill and begin paying to have garbage hauled out of state.

State and federal regulations require landfill owners to monitor them for three decades after closure. David Koonce, director of the city Public Works Department, which includes the landfill, said testing and monitoring will continue.

“It will be identical to what goes on now,” he said. “We will sample groundwater and monitor to see that the landfill has no impact on the surrounding environment.”

The landfill has exhibited signs of trouble the past few years with suspicious discharges in nearby springs. There also is a groundwater anomaly in a corner of the landfill that engineers have not been able to explain with dye tests. That will be a major focus of the closure monitoring efforts.

Also today, the council is expected to discuss the proposed sale of the former Florence Golf and Country Club to a Chinese company that wants to form a partnership with the University of North Alabama. It would include building an international graduate studies center in integrative health and health management. Guizhou Shenqi Group has offered $2.1 million for the 155-acre property.

The council voted to buy the property, adjacent to the landfill, in November 2009 for just more than $2 million. Initially, a small portion of the property was to be used to expand the landfill. The Chinese company made an identical offer in summer 2011, but a tie vote by the council caused the offer to be withdrawn.

Council President Dick Jordan said he likely will add a resolution to today’s meeting agenda empowering Mayor Mickey Haddock to negotiate a sale.

In separate business, the council is expected to appoint Ben Graves city judge. He will replace James Hall, who was elected Lauderdale County probate judge in November.

The council meets in the City Hall auditorium on Pine Street. The work session begins at 3 p.m., and the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.

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