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Bailard Closes After Taking Its Last Load of Garbage

Sanitation: Beginning Monday, the dump, which opened in 1962, enters a yearlong closure process. Many haulers will now use Toland Road site.

August 25, 1996|SCOTT STEEPLETON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A time capsule filled with countless tons of Ventura County's history closed Saturday, as the Bailard Landfill in Oxnard accepted its last load of trash.

Solid waste Supt. Mark Bailey, 63, locked the entrance gate on Gonzales Road at 4 p.m., bringing to a close the first phase of the landfill, which opened in 1962.

The occasion brought out about a dozen former and current Ventura County Regional Sanitation District employees, who gathered at the top of the large hump west of Victoria Avenue for an afternoon celebration complete with sparkling apple cider.

"This is another day in the life of the landfill," said Gary Haden, solid waste manager. "This is a time capsule, a 180-acre time capsule."

Beginning Monday, the Bailard Landfill enters a yearlong closure process. And while public and private haulers will no longer be able to take the county's discards to the site--those in western Ventura County will very likely use the Toland Road Landfill east of Santa Paula--employees at the landfill won't be leaving any time soon.

"We'll be doing maintenance at this place for 30 years," said Bailey, who has been working for the sanitation district since 1975 and remembers when the entrance to the landfill was on Ventura Road near the Santa Clara River bridge.

Back then, people called Bailey's place of employment a dump.

"A lot of people never thought the word 'dump' fell out of favor," solid waste director John Conaway said. "I tried to get people to use sanitary landfill 25 years ago, but they didn't know what I was talking about."

No matter what it's called, the landfill has always been the place where people took their garbage, and some of that garbage is quite interesting, Haden said.

"I remember a couple who came by and said they lost something in the landfill," Haden said. "It turned out to be a blue Noxzema jar."

Haden knew that two days and 20 feet of new trash would make finding the jar nearly impossible. Besides, he wondered, what could be so important about a jar of skin cream?

"The lady's grandmother had stashed $10,000 worth of diamonds inside that jar," he said. Both the jar and the diamonds were lost forever.

That's what three million tons of trash will do.

Standing atop the nearly 60-foot-tall mound of trash and dirt at the Bailard site feels like standing on top of the world, except for the dust caused by graders and bulldozers and the ever-present sea gulls. A cool breeze blows in from the ocean, and every once in awhile you forget about the ground shaking--also caused by the huge machines.

For those who like the convenience of the landfill, situated near the border of Oxnard and Ventura, there is no place like it.

"I feel a little sadness about the closure," said Don Buffin, 53, who has been hauling the remains of his home projects to the dump for about 10 years. "I've always been able to come here and get rid of the things I needed to get rid of."

Buffin, who was emptying dirt from the back of his pickup 20 minutes before Bailard closed, is not sure where he'll take the other load of dirt he needs to haul away from his house in Ventura.

But "I feel assured that I will be able take my dirt elsewhere," he said.

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