Mike Friend

Mike Friend, engineering manager for the Champaign-based Farnsworth Group, speaks to members of the Paxton City Council on Tuesday night.

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PAXTON — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has released the city of Paxton from its obligation to continue monitoring its long-closed landfill, paving the way for the city to finally sell the property.

The IEPA recently sent a letter to Mayor Bill Ingold indicating that it had determined that the “post-closure care” of the landfill had been sufficiently completed.

“It’s a done deal,” city engineer Mike Friend of the Champaign-based Farnsworth Group told aldermen during Tuesday night’s city council meeting, prompting a round of applause.

Ingold said this was the first time the IEPA had issued a certification of completion of post-closure care for a landfill under its rules and regulations that were adopted in 1989.

“They kept telling us we were in uncharted territory with as far as we’d got,” Ingold said.

This moment had been a long time coming. Former city engineer Mike Streff had spent years working with the IEPA to get the necessary certification to have the landfill, which has not been used since 1991, officially closed.

“I talked to Mike Streff on the phone today — he’s retired, as you know — and he threatened to show up in a Hawaiian shirt and do a happy dance tonight,” Friend joked. “While he’s not here, Mike (Streff) gets all of the credit for this. I just had the opportunity to carry the good news here.”

The landfill’s monitoring wells were sealed and abandoned this summer in order to obtain the IEPA’s certification of completion of post-closure care.

Now, the city is finally able to move forward with selling the landfill property, along with the neighboring city-owned airport, to prospective buyers — a process that Ingold said is already under way.

The city has been working to sell the landfill to a different person than the airport. The same person interested in buying the landfill also wants to buy a small piece of land where a small building used to sit on the south end of the airport. If all goes as planned, the landfill’s prospective buyer would negotiate an agreement with the prospective buyer of the airport to use the airport’s runway for a crop-spraying business.