Piles of rubbish and wet weather have closed the gates at the City Landfill. It is anticipated that the landfill will remain closed for the next three to six weeks while city crews work diligently to construct two new cells.

The landfill closed last week and forced area residents and construction professionals needing to leave a load to travel to Weatherford or Brownwood.

The problem, according to City Administrator Mark Kaiser, is that the existing cells have surpassed their designated capacity.

In an April split vote, the Stephenville City Council voted to extend hours at the landfill to accommodate area roofing contractors working overtime to repair roofs damaged during a February hailstorm.

At the time the council approved the request, Kaiser and Director of Public Works Nick Williams said extended hours of operation would slow the progress of constructing the new cells, which will replace cells one and two. Both agreed that opening a few additional hours a week would cost the city more time and money in the long run.

Still, the council decided to temporarily extend the normal operating hours, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday to include Tuesdays from 8-10 a.m.

Williams said that for the last few weeks the landfill had maintained only normal operating hours and will maintain the same schedule when the new cells are complete.

Kaiser said prior to the decision in April the issue was about the best use of the city’s dollar.

“We need to keep the operators digging,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser explained that city employees using city equipment would save an estimated $5,000-$10,000 a day by digging cells three and four.

City employees are using city equipment to excavate cells three and four, to save the cost of hiring contractors.

But Williams said Mother Nature, not extended hours, is to blame for the landfill’s closing. He said October rains put a damper on construction progress.

Williams said the majority of the construction is complete. Once the work is finished, the city has to submit specifications to state officials, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for review and certification.

“We can’t use the landfill until the TCEQ gives us the okay,” Williams said. “But I do expect a quick turnaround.”