Attention all Thrashers (Even Grommets): A Skatepark is Planned for John Hunt Park

In a few months, you’ll be able to go to John Hunt Park and grab some air with your crew on a half-pipe.

That’s right, thanks to a $1 million anonymous donation, the city of Huntsville moving ahead with plans for an innovative skatepark that will challenge skaters, from professional to novice.

The proposed $4 million facility will be Olympic quality and include restrooms, pavilions, sunshades, lighting, landscaping and expanded parking. It is slated to be built on a three-acre site between Kids Space and the championship soccer fields.

“Skateboarding continues to grow in popularity and is a sport the community has long wanted to see in John Hunt Park,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “We’ve been holding a space in the park for skaters, and thanks to the generosity of a local donor we’re able to start moving forward on a project this year.”

The skatepark will be on a three-acre site between Kids Space and the championship soccer fields.

Fueled by the anonymous donor’s gift, the city is working in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. An account has been established to continue fundraising to support the total cost of the project.

The city of Huntsville and Community Foundation team is also reaching out to a charity established by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk to help with the design.

“The Community Foundation is proud to help our donors put their philanthropic dreams into action,” said Melissa Thompson, CEO and president of the Community Foundation. “We strive to help our donors be generous, however that looks for them.

“We are excited to help bring to life the John Hunt Skatepark, which will enhance the quality of life and bring new opportunities to a diverse group of people in our community.”

For the donor, having spent formative years enjoying the former Get-A-Way Skatepark on Leeman Ferry Road, the goal is for others to have the opportunity for physical fitness and to learn important life lessons.

“Skateboarding is not easy … you have to fall a lot,” said the donor. “I used the focus and dedication harnessed from my skateboarding experiences throughout my business life, understanding you have to be dedicated and work hard to succeed; and you have to learn to fall and get back up.”

The city and the Community Foundation will work with The Skatepark Project, Hawk’s national skatepark advocacy charity, to ensure the project is completed efficiently and up to contemporary standards.  It will incorporate elements of the Get-A-Way Skatepark and offer areas for Olympic and street-style skateboarding.

“We are extremely happy to be adding another attraction to John Hunt Park,” said Steve Ivey, director of Huntsville Parks & Recreation. “We know the new skatepark will be a huge success and thank the Community Foundation for helping us make this become a reality.”

The process for the city to begin working with the Community Foundation will be sent to City Council for approval on Jan. 14.

‘Trash Mountain’ a Modern Landfill Rising over Southwest Huntsville


    Ever notice the rising landmass at the southwest end of Leeman Ferry Road that can be seen for miles around and was once the site of a rock quarry?

     It’s officially known as a Modern Landfill and it contains non-hazardous refuse. They’re known colloquially as “trash mountains.’’ There’s even a recreation area in Virginia Beach, Va., called Mount Trashmore that was built on top of two landfills in 1974.

     But while the Huntsville Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) has used modern technology in operating the landfill since 1988, the idea of a “trash mountain’’ is an idea that traces back to ancient Rome. For 250 years, carefully piled used jars created Monte Testaccio, which means “Mountain of Jars.’’

    This was no dumpsite, and neither is Huntsville Modern Landfill.

     “Our facilities are engineered facilities that are highly regulated by both the ADEM and the United States Environmental Protection Agency,’’ said John “Doc’’ Holladay, executive director of the SWDA. “The Authority has invested and will continue to invest tens of millions of dollars to design, build, operate, close and conduct post-closure care for a minimum of 30 years to ensure these facilities will be protective of human health and the environment in this community.

      “The landfill is a vital public service provided by the Authority, in combination with the Waste-to-Energy facility, for the waste produced by the citizens, businesses, industries and institutions of the City of Huntsville, City of Madison and Madison County. The landfill is highly regulated by the ADEM through state-of-the-art technical standards to ensure that it is designed, built, operated, and closed in a manner to protect the citizens and the environment of this community.’’

     No long-term plans have been decided on for the landfill, which is not close to full and has years of life remaining. A section of the site, however, is already being used by hobbyists.

     “The exact end uses have not been decided at this time,’’ Holladay said. “The life of this landfill is projected to be greater than 30 years so as we get closer to that time, the Authority will determine what would be the most suitable long-term end use of this facility for the citizens of this community.

       “Currently, a closed-out portion of the landfill is being utilized by the Rocket City Radio Controllers as an airfield for remote-controlled airplanes and helicopters.’’

      The SWDA manages two landfills, neither of which accepts hazardous material:

      Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are designed to accept mainly residential (kitchen waste, bathroom trash cans, etc.), commercial (apartment complexes, universities, and restaurants, etc.) and non-hazardous institutional waste. These types of landfills require plastic liners, leachate collection systems and methane gas collection systems. Methane gas collection systems are  required once a landfill reaches a certain tonnage and generates a certain level of regulated landfill gas emissions.

     Construction and demolition (C&D) waste landfills have different engineering and environmental standards than the MSW landfills. Construction and Demolition landfills not only accept construction and demolition waste but also inert waste such as old furniture, mattresses, trees/branches and yard waste. The slope that is visible from John Hunt Park is the C&D portion of the landfill.’’

     The landfill will continue to grow, but the mounds created by the refuse do decompose.

     “Both landfills are projected to last for another 30-plus years,’’ Holladay said. “As you are aware, the Authority has been actively engaged in adopting and implementing strategies that reduce the volume of waste that is disposed of in landfills for quite some time. In fact, two of those initiatives are over 30 years  old, and a third initiative will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.

     “The waste-to-energy plant not only recovers the energy embedded in waste to produce steam for Redstone Arsenal, but it also reduces the volume of waste by 90 percent which reduces the amount of waste that has to be disposed of in the MSW Landfill. After combustion, the ash is transported to the MSW cell for disposal. However, prior to placing the ash in the landfill, the ferrous and non-ferrous metals are removed and recycled.’’

     The Authority further seeks to reduce waste volumes being disposed of in the landfill by providing services that can be found at