Discussions as to what should become of the defunct landfill known as Mount Trashmore have been going for years.

Discussions as to what should become of the defunct landfill known as Mount Trashmore have been going for years. On Wednesday, the city’s sustainability advisory board voted to recommend employing an expert to survey the public as to their opinion on the site’s fate.

Dakin Weekley, the board’s chairman, said former landfills elsewhere have been turned into solar arrays, mined for minerals or turned into community spaces. He said his preferred option would be to look at how the site could be used for renewable energy.

“We actually had a representative from a company that does do element mining in old landfills come and give us a presentation, and it was something that was completely infeasible,” Weekley said. “He said he thought, the way his landfill was, we would have to have trucks going 24 hours a day for seven, eight months.”

Board member Scott Miller said other possibilities brought up at past meetings were a bird sanctuary, tourism uses and parks. Miller said it was premature for the city to begin making decisions about what should become of the landfill, which sits as a towering mountain next to The College of the Florida Keys.

“No matter what, there’s going to be a lot of politics involved in redeveloping Mount Trashmore,” he said.

Miller said the city already employs someone who does community outreach work on such issues.

Board member Richard Lightner said the board has previously heard from Keys Energy Services that they would be supportive of installing a solar array on the mountain, but said he would like to see an analysis of how much it would cost to install.

The board discussed that using an expert to survey the community was a better option than holding public meetings on Mount Trashmore, since the meetings can produce skewed information if only a few people attend.

Sustainability coordinator Alison Higgins said that the city has greatly expanded its ability to communicate with the community since Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 crisis. Its email list has grown and made the ability to participate in city meetings digitally easier.

The city stopped accepting new waste at Mount Trashmore in the 1990s and concerns have been brought up over the years about pollution emanating from the site. On Wednesday, the board heard a presentation from Dr. Nick Parr of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He was asked by Miller what assurances he could give to the public that the landfill is not polluting the waters around it. Parr said that the DEP closed out testing specifically on the site “long ago” after not detecting the contaminants associated with landfills.

Over the years, the community has contributed input about what should become of Mount Trashmore to The Key West Citizen, both in Citizen’s Voice and Letters to the Editor. Some ideas have ranged from a water park to a shooting range or hurricane shelter.