Now is the time to start planning for the next landfill.
As far as searching for a suitable site and getting community buy-in, the bitter fights over the current site on Eubanks should have provided enough lessons on how not to proceed. If those lessons were left unlearned, our local leaders only have to review the recent solid waste transfer site process or the developing UNC Airport Authority issue to see how a new search might avoid some of their pitfalls.
What do I recommend?
Start now. Community involvement with constant updates an absolute necessity. Create multiple steering committees throughout the County. Anticipate population trends and account for them honestly (unlike the factoring out of the spillage of Durham into eastern Orange, the explosion of population in Hillsborough and the blossoming of Mebane). The decision must be based on objective technical criteria complimented by an analysis of community impacts. The site must support anticipated current and future technologies – like methane gas recovery and e-waste recycling – that will not only enhance the environment but provide potentially lucrative returns. Measurable environmental, social and economic effects must guide the final selection (no hand-waving please).
One last ingredient. Backbone.
Selecting the next landfill site will be a long, arduous task. The final decision will take political courage. It doesn’t have to be one that tears our County and community apart.