Leaking Gas Closes Down Glendale Sports Complex

Times Staff Writer

Potentially explosive levels of leaking methane have prompted Glendale officials to close a municipal golf and tennis complex built on top of a landfill.

The city’s Scholl Canyon Golf and Tennis Complex will remain closed indefinitely until officials can determine the severity of the problem and correct it, Glendale City Manager David Ramsay said.

Tests at and near the sports center, which is built on as much as 245 feet of trash, found that the gas is migrating into electrical vaults and sewer manholes and leaking from fissures in the ground.

The leaks pose a danger to the scores of people using the golf course and 10 tennis courts daily, Ramsay said.


Kerry L. Morford, the city’s assistant public works director, said officials learned Thursday that a pipeline collection system built into the landfill, which is designed to carry off the gas, is broken or plugged, forcing the gas to escape elsewhere. Methane forms naturally as trash and debris decomposes.

In addition to the leaking gas, officials have found that dirt and landscaping covering the landfill is as shallow as two inches in some areas, Morford said. State standards require at least two feet of ground cover.

The nine-hole, 1,700-yard golf course has been plagued with problems since before it opened in 1981. The once gentle slopes of the course continually shift by as much as 15 feet, creating hills and dales.

A driving range and most of the greens have been rebuilt at least once. The city had planned in the next year to spend another $250,000 to replace a sprinkling system, repair greens and make other improvements.


‘Stinky Canyon’

Golfers, who have nicknamed the course “Stinky Canyon,” have long complained about the foul-smelling gas, which burns brown holes in the grass, kills trees and causes occasional small bursts of fire.

Hugh Heney, hazardous materials supervisor of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said it is not unusual for landfills to be temporarily closed because of leaking methane. Materials in landfills can shift for 20 years or more, he said.

Jeff Silverstein, president of CCA Silband Sports Corp. of Encino, which operates Scholl Canyon, said his company, in addition to the city, has spent thousands of dollars on repairs to the facility. “The property is really totally unpredictable,” he said. “We can go in and repair an area and come back a week later and the ground has settled again.”

Glendale officials said they will ask the City Council on Tuesday to decide what to do about the problems at Scholl.