Located 4 miles south of downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Phoenix is the first golf course to be constructed on top of a former landfill in Ohio. Lush bent grass now covers fairways where barren ground use to be. Sand traps and ornamental grasses are where decomposed garbage and tires once laid. And business meetings and golf outings now take place in an atmosphere once ripe with the stench of decomposing trash.
The Phoenix is the result of a public/private partnership between Petro Environmental Technologies and the owner, Solid Wasted Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO). For more than a decade the closed landfill sat idle as environmental problems and maintenance costs escalated. In need of major improvements, SWACO seized the opportunity to "recycle" the property into an asset for the community. After publicly soliciting proposals, they chose Petro Environmental as a partner to upgrade the landfill cap system in conjunction with development of an 18 hole golf course.
The benefits of the SWACO/Petro Environmental partnership are enormous. Under the terms of the agreement, SWACO pays only the costs associated with fixing the landfill problems. The costs for developing and maintaining the golf course are borne by Petro Environmental. This saves SWACO over $100,000 each year that it has been paying to maintain the closed landfill site. Petro Environmental, in turn, receives attractive rental rates - getting a 50 year lease for $1 per year. Furthermore, the community as a whole benefits, removing an eyesore and replacing it with scenic rolling hills and manicured fairways.
Planning The Phoenix was not a simple task. Besides designing a facility that optimized the site's golf potential, The Phoenix had to satisfy Ohio EPA regulations. Petro Environmental hired Tim Nugent, a golf course architect with experience in landfill/golf course construction. He designed a 6,800 yard, links-style course that effectively and aesthetically utilizes the entire 185 acre site. The most obvious design distinction is the lack of trees at the Phoenix. Because root systems jeopardize the integrity of the landfill caps, trees could not be planted. Instead, Mr. Nugent incorporated ornamental grass and rolling hills to give the course a Scottish links theme that overlooked the Columbus skyline.
5,000,000 tons of decomposing waste underground also posed a problem. Methane gas seeping through the landfill cap was killing the vegetation and emitting a pungent odor. Petro Environmental hired Energy Development Inc. (EDL) to solve the methane gas problems. Experts in gas to electric power generation, EDL installed a vacuum system that collects the gas and utilizes it as fuel to generate electricity. At full production the methane to electricity unit is capable of providing enough power to light over 20,000 households.
Columbus loves their new public course. In the first month alone over 3,300 rounds of golf were enjoyed. But the golf course is not just for the golfing community. It is a symbol of how contaminated sites can be transformed into valuable assets for both the owners and the community.