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Votes

Debris To Give Way to Trees

Board approves plan to gradually transform Lorton Debris Landfill into a 250-acre park.

Right now, dump trucks loaded with huge chunks of concrete and twisted metal unload at the Lorton Debris Landfill, but Tina Leone is looking to the future. “It’s something that could be not only a tourist attraction, but another gem for the south county area,” said Leone, head of the Lorton Arts Foundation.

The landfill is about 250 acres along Furnace Road, south of the Lorton Valley South neighborhood. The owner, Furnace Associates, asked for approval to expand its current landfill. Under the plan approved Monday, Jan. 9 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the landfill will be able to reach a height of 412 feet — the old maximum was 290 feet.

The new plan also restricts certain turning movements into and out of the site. If the restriction works as intended, it could all but end trucks rumbling down Lorton Road on their way to the landfill.

The owner expects the site to be full by the end of 2018. But as it fills, the owner will cap sections of the landfill and plant grass, trees and other plants, gradually turning the area into a passive recreation park called Overlook Ridge.

The sections of the closed landfill turned into park land will be open to the public, but under the control of Furnace Associates, as long as the landfill is operational. Since the landfill is made of construction debris, it won’t have decomposing organic matter, and the associated smell, percolating up from under the ground.

ONCE THE landfill is closed, and the state has signed off on its environmental quality, the entire area will be turned over to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The end result will have about six miles of trails, which will connect to the nearby sports complex on the site of the former prison, and also to the proposed equestrian center. The owner also hopes to set aside an area for a sculpture garden.

Frank McDermott, attorney for Furnace Associates, showed the board photos of the scenic vistas of the Potomac River and Belmont Bay visible from about 220 feet up the side of the landfill.

McDermott said the landfill plans to build an overlook at the location where the photos were taken, and another at the top of the closed landfill. “You can imagine the extent of the view that the public will be able to enjoy,” he said.

Furnace will also plant about 4,000 trees and 10,000 other plants. Between the vegetation, and the topsoil necessary to support them, McDermott estimated it would cost $10 million to complete the project.

McDermott then showed an illustration of what the landfill could look like after the trees and plants have reached maturity. “It frankly ends up looking like, from these adjacent communities, like a mountain,” he said.

“In years to come, we won’t know that it was ever a landfill,” Leone said.

Board members, who supported the proposal unanimously, praised the plan. “Once we get this done, I can see lots of awards coming this way,” said Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason).