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Local

Shuttered landfill to become cross-country course, hiking trails

'We’re going to get something good from that pile of dirt'

The view from the top of the shuttered Settlers Hill Landfill in Geneva will be an attraction once the cross-country course and network of trails is completed, Kane County officials said. The top of the landfill is 880 feet above sea level, the second-highest elevation in southern Kane County. The view includes the Chicago skyline on a clear day, officials said.
The view from the top of the shuttered Settlers Hill Landfill in Geneva will be an attraction once the cross-country course and network of trails is completed, Kane County officials said. The top of the landfill is 880 feet above sea level, the second-highest elevation in southern Kane County. The view includes the Chicago skyline on a clear day, officials said.

GENEVA – The decades that Kane County collected tipping fees from the now closed Settlers Hill Landfill will pay for the $4 million cross country course being planned for the hill.

“That was always the premise,” said Kane County Board member Michael Kenyon, R-South Elgin. “There’s only certain things you can do with that big mound of dirt that will not break the [landfill’s] cover. You can’t put a building on it. So what we came up with was a cross-country track. … We’re going to get something good from that pile of dirt.”

But the county is also seeking pay dirt in the form of clean soil to be deposited at the site, where it will be paid $1.25 per cubic yard, officials said.

Both the Kane County Board and Forest Preserve Commission are expected to approve an agreement with Heartland Recycling of Aurora to have clean dirt taken to the site, which will be used to create the cross-country course and network of trails, and to construct a driving range for golfers, officials said.

Kane County Board member John Martin, R-Geneva, said the bottom line is the available uses for the mound has been fairly restrictive.

“The [Illinois Environmental Protection Agency] will not allow you to build a building on top of that mound. There was talk of mountain bike trails, but you can’t put in the gravel base for that,” Martin said. “There was talk of an outdoor performing arts venue, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense because it would be competing with facilities in both Elgin and Aurora.”

Creating a cross country venue for about 12 competitions a year will be a source of revenue, Martin said.

"The rest of the year, the entire pathway system would be for people to hike and run,” Martin said. “That should complement the desires of people who want more passive activities on the part of the forest preserve district.”

Martin said the district has permission from the IEPA to do prairie plantings. Waste Management will still maintain the entire hill except for the lanes that will be mowed for cross country and hiking.

“There is a membrane at the bottom and over the top of the landfill,” Martin said. “The IEPA will not allow trees to be planted or buildings or footings for risk of penetrating that membrane.”

A third and final engineering phase is in progress now, and the hope is that construction of the cross country course and network of trails can begin this fall, Martin said.

The mound of the landfill is 880 feet above sea level, the second-highest elevation in southern Kane County, said Kenneth Anderson, who is director of the Settlers Hill project.

At 896 feet above sea level, Johnson's Mound in Blackberry Township is the highest local elevation. The mound is a stratified gravel hill known as a kame, which was deposited by glacial ice and water some 10,000 years ago, according to the Kane County Forest Preserve's website, www.kaneforest.com.

“On a clear day, you can see the skyline of Chicago,” Anderson said of the top of th elandfill. “Sometimes you can see the Byron Nuclear Plant’s steam going up. … You can see rooftops in Batavia and Geneva. It’s really a great view.”

The summit will have a concrete base with educational signs showing directions and mile markers as an aid for public viewing, Anderson said.

The access point for the trail system will be at the Fox Valley Ice Rink and Strikers Fox Valley Soccer Club on Kirk Road, he said.

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