BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Bristol, Virginia leaders held an open house at City Hall on Tuesday evening in an effort to communicate with the public about the city’s now-closed landfill and the next steps for odor mitigation.

Complaints of bad smells across the city led to a state investigation and the closure of the city’s trash dump in September, but the stench continues to plague residents even though the landfill no longer accepts trash.

An expert panel brought in to advise leaders previously recommended the city do a better job of keeping residents in the loop.

Bristol residents at the open house searched for answers as they spoke with city officials and experts.

“So far I think it’s a long time coming, but this is a positive step,” Joel Kellogg, HOPE for Bristol president said.

Vice Mayor Neal Osborne said the open house is the product of a recommendation by an expert panel.

“One problem that we’ve had has been clear and consistent communication,” Osborne said. “This is taking a first step to address that, you know, and combat that.”

Osborne said the city is at work on the landfill now, they’re currently installing the heat monitoring system and part of the sidewall odor mitigation system. Dozens came out Tuesday evening to hear about the plans.

“There are four information stations set up so people can come and hear, you know, the history of the landfill, what’s going on, where we’re going and then offer comments,” Osborne said. “We got a good turnout right now.”

The clean-up of the project is estimated to cost $30 million.

“There’s a smell that could destroy our community,” meeting attendee Joe Macione said. “This is a wonderful place to live and we just need to be sure that something is done about it as soon as possible.”

Despite answering questions from community members, News Channel 11 was told by a consultant that city officials and experts giving presentations could not do interviews.

Osborne said the city plans to hold additional community forums over the next six months or so.