Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison Supports Dane County Community’s Move to Sustainability Campus for Waste Management

November 03, 2021
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive

With less than 10 years of landfill space remaining at the Rodefeld Landfill, County Executive Joe Parisi announced the Dane County Department of Waste & Renewables is setting out to shift the way Dane County communities think about waste with the next proposed landfill site.

The County’s vision includes development of a sustainable business park or “Sustainability Campus” to divert waste and create local circular economies.  This will be accomplished by attracting reuse, repair, and recycling businesses; new waste management technologies; and research to the Campus. The intent is to design the site for safe public access, education, and recreation where visitors can examine their relationship with waste and the Dane County community can move towards a future where waste is not a liability, but a resource and an opportunity. The proposal already has support from community neighbors like Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison.

“If Dane County is unable to locate a new landfill site, local communities will have no option but to export their waste outside of the county.  This would be financially and environmentally unsustainable, and would shift our waste burden onto others,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “The Sustainability Campus would serve as a hub for recreation, environmental education, renewable energy, and innovation of a circular economy.  It would provide the opportunity for the Dane County community to embrace a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.”

The early stages of the project, which are planned to be implemented within the next five years, include a composting program that is designed to accept food waste and a waste education center and administrative building.  Other opportunities that will be explored for early implementation include resale space and mattress recycling, but the broader planning efforts will consider the future of waste management and emerging waste streams and technologies.

Dane County and the City of Madison are working together to advance this vision by exploring the feasibility of using part of the City of Madison’s Yahara Hill Golf Course for the project.  This site became a possibility after the City’s Golf Task Force recommended closing half of the existing golf holes at the course.  With the site’s proximity to the Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison facilities, both the County and the City recognize the importance of working with Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison to ensure the plans are compatible with their goals and operations.

“As the original land stewards of TeeJop (i.e., pronounced “De-Jope”), the Ho-Chunk feel a responsibility to Mother Earth in all our Indigenous territories,” said Daniel Brown, Executive Manager, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison. “Traditional ecological knowledge imparts the need for building resilience and sustainability to assure balance in our ecosystem for future generations. The changes in land use on Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s neighboring city property for this project intends to achieve that. We at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison are proud to support Dane County’s waste management conservation efforts, and we look forward to future collaboration to encourage ecologically sound solutions.”

The proposed project will include County investment into the site and collaboration with private businesses to divert materials from our waste stream to use as commodities to benefit the local economy and create jobs.  The Department of Waste & Renewables has an existing public-private-partnership in place for the operation of a construction and demolition recycling facility which will serve as a potential model for these types of opportunities.  

The proposed project will also include collaboration with Dane County Parks Division, City of Madison Parks Division, surrounding communities, and recreational organizations to develop a plan for conversion of the existing Rodefeld landfill to recreational space and to incorporate new recreation opportunities at the proposed site before, during, and after landfilling. 

Dane County has operated the Rodefeld Landfill just north of the Yahara site since 1985. Through waste diversion, innovative engineering, and efficient operations, the site has been able to serve the community’s waste management over 4 decades.  Dane County Department of Waste & Renewables has a long history of challenging the traditional model of waste management and plans to continue to do so with the next waste management facility. The program is a national leader in innovative waste management with recognition by various local, state, and national awards.

This project will require numerous City and County approvals over the next several months as well as many future approvals and opportunities for public comment as the landfill permitting process advances with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.