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'Mount Stallis' rises in West Allis

A huge pile of dirt rises on Greenfield Avenue at the Interstate 894 ramps. The dirt is from the Zoo Interchange project and the state Department of Transportation put it there. Plans call for the dirt pile to be planted with grass.

A huge pile of dirt rises on Greenfield Avenue at the Interstate 894 ramps. The dirt is from the Zoo Interchange project and the state Department of Transportation put it there. Plans call for the dirt pile to be planted with grass.

April 23, 2014

West Allis — Everybody thought the huge pile of dirt that arose where Interstate 894 crosses Greenfield Avenue in West Allis would go away as soon as the Zoo Interchange work was finished.

But West Allis officials just learned that the pile that has been dubbed Mount Stallis by some neighbors is here to stay. It's dirt dug up in the Zoo Interchange project and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's chunk of land next to the freeway at Greenfield Avenue was a handy place to put it.

Stallis is the colloquial term residents have created as a shortened nickname for West Allis.

"I'd say it's an eyesore," said Alderman Michael May who discovered that the DOT doesn't plan to move the heap.

The DOT does plan to plant grass on it and seems to be agreeable to planting some large trees to soften the heap's visual impact, May reported to fellow aldermen last week.

"It sounds like the very least is we'd get some trees," he said.

The DOT also would probably be agreeable to turning Mount Stallis over to the city, but officials aren't that interested, knowing how tricky it will be to mow a hill that steep.

But faced with the giant sow's ear, city officials are trying to be resilient by looking into how they might turn it into a silk purse. They're thinking of mounting unique and even artistic solar panels on the mini-mount. Some of the newer solar panels can be quite striking and could make the hill into something unique and interesting, John Stibal, development director, suggested. The Milwaukee County Zoo has a sunflower-shaped solar panel on its grounds, already.

Not only that, the city could sell the electricity the panels generate and that would pay for the panels and the maintenance. That's the hope. Now the city will look into whether the plan is workable, affordable and beautiful enough to do.

A private individual or contractor would not be allowed to pile up fill, officials said. But the city can't do anything about the DOT.

"It's great to be king," one official quipped.

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