Changing Brownfields to Green A Landfill's New Life Golf Course Proposed for Mandarin Area

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

The golf slang term "being in the trash," will take on new meaning when Sunbeam Hill opens in the Mandarin area, possibly by the beginning of 2004.

Part of the planned 18-hole course, designed by Roy Case of West Palm Beach, will be built on the closed Sunbeam Road landfill site, just about a Tiger Woods drive and 8-iron from U.S. 1.

Tomorrow, Waste Management Inc., which owns the 225-acre tract, will transfer it to Brownfields Properties LLC, an Atlanta-based developer that specializes in turning "brownfield sites" -- landfills, abandoned mining areas and warehouses -- into residential or commercial properties.

If permitting goes as planned, construction will begin by the end of the year on the 6,810-yard golf course and 134 ranch-style condominiums, priced from $130,000. The estimated construction cost will be $15 million for the residential units and $7 million for the golf course.

Dane Cates, the president of Brownfields Properties, and Maury Myers, the CEO of Waste Management, would not disclose the purchase price.

Cates said environmental concern about any kind of residential or recreational area built over a landfill is natural. But he said precautions are taken to ensure the safety of residents and golfers.

The landfill was closed in 1986, and there was a 3-foot deep "cap" laid over it. Cates said the cap is a mixture of soil and bentenite -- a concrete-like substance -- that is nearly water-tight. The cap keeps rain from soaking through the cap, into the waste and into the ground.

Only 51 of the property's 225 acres contain garbage and waste. Residential units will be located about 1,400 feet from the perimeter of those 51 acres. The back nine will be laid out over the landfill, and Cates said the cap will keep players from being exposed to the waste in any way.

He also said there will be an additional 1-to-6 feet of soil between the cap and the playing surface.

"There are residential properties closer to the landfill right now than the ones we're planning to build," Cates said.

One other area golf course has been built over an old landfill, the Jacksonville Beach Municipal Golf Course. Officials there said there have been no reported problems related to the landfill and golfers.

The Sunbeam site is in city Councilwoman Mary Ann Southwell's District 6. She is enthusiastic about the idea.

"I've been assured that there will be no problems with either a golf course or homes on the site," she said. "The actual landfill is well contained. …