A court fight is brewing over the future of the Moundbuilders Country Club in Newark. The Ohio History Connection wants access to the Native American earthworks on the golf course and has filed a petition to acquire the property through eminent domain. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Interior announced the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio could be considered for the prestigious designation as a World Heritage site. 

Jen Aultman at the Ohio History Connection says the Octagon Earthworks on the grounds of the golf course would have to be included. “When we talk to international experts, some of them have said the octagon is really one of the jewels of this nomination because of all of the elements that it incorporates,” Aultman.

The state’s court filing says the Ohio History Connection would turn the golf course property into a public park.

The octagon mounds, consisting of eight straight mounds that align with various stages of the moon, are well preserved. “When you think people built these one basket full of earth at a time – that’s really remarkable,” Aultman said. 

The state already owns the golf course property but the country club has a lease with the state that extends for another 60 years.

David Kratoville, president of the Moundbuilders Country Club Board of Trustees, says the club is open to meaningful discussion. “We respect what they want to do but they need to respect that we’ve occupied and improved this property and if they want it back, they simply need to pay us the amount of money required for us to move,” Kratoville said. “We would prefer to stay but we’re willing to recreate or relocate. They simply need to pay us enough money so we can go and do that.”

World Heritage status is awarded to sites with “outstanding universal value” to all of humanity.