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We Energies begins cleaning up Solvay Coke site

Although We Energies says it has yet to decide how it wants to its recently acquired land at the former Solvay Coke site in the Milwaukee harbor, the utility company recently started moving forward on some cleanup work meant to prepare the way for new development.

We Energies’ affiliate Wisconsin Gas LLC bought the 46-acre site at 311 E. Greenfield Avenue earlier this month for $4 million, according to state records. The company made the purchase from an Illinois developer that had originally planned to develop the land but then ended up going bankrupt.

Cathy Schulze, a spokewoman for We Energies, said the company has been installing fencing, removing debris and otherwise dealing with immediate safety hazards. The site, for instance, is littered with piles of bricks left over from the demolition of various buildings there.

Yet, despite all the cleanup work, We Energies has neither specific plans for the site nor a schedule showing when plans of that sort might be completed, Schulze said.

“We’ll keep all options open at this point,” she said, adding that We Energies is working with the city and the non-profit group Harbor District Inc. on possible ways to use the site.

Lilith Fowler, executive director of the Harbor District, said her group is meeting with We Energies regularly to get the latest news on the Solvay Coke site and to provide advice. Likewise, the utility company has been involved with the Harbor District’s land-use planning.

Fowler said her group would like to see the site create more jobs and provide better access to both the water and green space.

“This site offers huge possibility for both of those things,” she said.

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