Former dump site targeted

City positive, but cautious over proposed development

Dec. 23, 2013

Greenfield — With the economy picking up a bit, a redevelopment company hopes to develop more than 20 acres near the southwest corner of 116th Street and Morgan Avenue.

The city of Greenfield owns about 14 of those acres and Riverside LLC has been cleared by the Common Council to buy them. But to make development work, the company will also have to buy land from West Allis and Milwaukee County, said Chuck Erickson, Greenfield director of economic development and planning.

City officials are pleased but cautious about the development chances. That's because the land has some relatively low-level contamination. Land owned by all three entities was a dumping place for foundry sand from the former Allis-Chalmers Corp., Erickson said.

That was legal until the 1970s when the state Department of Natural Resources banned it, he said.

To build on the site, the sand area will have to be capped, Erickson said. The only other alternative — digging it out and disposing of it according to today's environmental standards — would be prohibitively expensive, he said.

Capping it with compacted clay means that the only building possible could not have a basement dug into the clay, Erickson said. Building will have to be at grade.

However, that doesn't rule out the multi-family or even single-family uses that are planned for the area, Erickson said.

But having so many entities involved in development will make it more difficult, he said. West Allis, for example, not only owns some of the land but the area is actually in the city of West Allis on an island of West Allis within Greenfield.

"All entities will need to be linked together on determining what is a redevelopment plan," Erickson said.

Another complication is that one of Greenfield's two properties is now being used to compost leaves. The city uses the compost to nurture greenery all over the city.

City officials are thinking of using another site north of Howard Avenue at about 100th Street for composting.

"It's a no-mans area," Erickson said. But the city hasn't decided on whether to use it. Officials have to be careful locating compost piles because of the smell.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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