Octagon Earthworks

 

Octagon Earthworks Update, 4.11.21

On April 13, 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Moundbuilders Country Club’s appeal regarding the Octagon Earthworks lease acquisition. Oral arguments will be presented before all seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court.

If you’d like to watch the live feed of the arguments, visit the Ohio Supreme Court’s website at supremecourt.ohio.gov/ beginning at 9 a.m. The link to the case will be available under “Announcements” and will lead you to written previews of the cases as well as provide another link to “live streaming video coverage.”

Our guiding principles throughout this process have been to ensure full public access to Octagon Earthworks, while also ensuring Moundbuilders Country Club receives just compensation for the value of the lease. We are unwavering in our belief that the Octagon Earthworks must be accessible to all. This position has been affirmed by the Licking County Court of Common Pleas and upheld by the Fifth District Court of Appeals, and we look forward to making our case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Octagon Earthworks Update, 1.17.21

On April 13, 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Moundbuilders Country Club’s appeal regarding the Octagon Earthworks lease acquisition. Oral arguments will be presented before all seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Our guiding principles throughout this process have been to ensure full public access to Octagon Earthworks, while also ensuring Moundbuilders Country Club receives just compensation for the value of the lease. We are unwavering in our belief that the Octagon Earthworks must be accessible to all. This position has been affirmed by the Licking County Court of Common Pleas and upheld by the Fifth District Court of Appeals, and we look forward to making our case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

On January 29, 2020, Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool’s ruling that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks, and that the acquisition is both necessary and for a public purpose.

After the ruling, Moundbuilders Country Club filed notice with the Ohio Supreme Court that they intended to appeal the finding by the Fifth District Court. Citing the club’s pending appeal, Judge Branstool postponed the jury trial that will determine the value of the lease until after the Ohio Supreme Court returns the case to Licking County Common Pleas Court.

Octagon Earthworks Update, 7.7.20

Earlier today the Ohio Supreme Court announced their decision to accept Moundbuilders Country Club’s appeal regarding Octagon Earthworks. At this time, the precise schedule is unknown. Oral arguments will be presented before all seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Our guiding principles throughout this process have been to ensure full public access to Octagon Earthworks, while also ensuring Moundbuilders Country Club receives just compensation for the value of the lease. We are unwavering in our belief that the Octagon Earthworks must be accessible to all. This position has been affirmed by the Licking County Court of Common Pleas and upheld by the Fifth District Court of Appeals, and we look forward to making our case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

On January 29, 2020, Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool’s ruling that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks, and that the acquisition is both necessary and for a public purpose.

After the ruling, Moundbuilders Country Club filed notice with the Ohio Supreme Court that they intend to appeal the finding by the Fifth District Court. Citing the club’s pending appeal, Judge Branstool postponed the jury trial that will determine the value of the lease until after the Ohio Supreme Court returns the case to Licking County Common Pleas Court, which could take up to a year or more.  As we move forward in our ongoing effort to make the Octagon Earthworks fully accessible to all, we will continue to provide you with regular updates on our progress.

Octagon Earthworks Update, 5.19.20

On Monday, May 18, Ohio History Connection took the next steps in our legal effort to acquire the Octagon Earthworks leasehold. We presented a new appraisal of the leasehold of the Octagon Earthworks with Moundbuilders Country Club as well as an offer for the full appraisal amount. The appraisal, performed by The Robert Weiler Company, valued the leasehold at $1,660,000, and Ohio History Connection immediately offered Moundbuilders Country Club that amount in exchange for the leasehold.

Ohio History Connection presented its appraisal through the Ohio Attorney General in preparation for a jury trial in Licking County Common Pleas Court that will determine the value of the lease. Both parties agreed to commission new appraisals as part of the trial discovery process. The leasehold had not been previously appraised since 2017.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process have been to ensure full public access to Octagon Earthworks while also ensuring Moundbuilders Country Club is fully compensated for the value of the lease,” said Burt Logan, Executive Director and CEO, Ohio History Connection. “We have submitted a new offer to the club based on this value and hope the club will seriously consider our offer.”

A refresher on steps already taken in the leasehold acquisition effort:

  • In August 2018, Ohio History Connection announced the intent to acquire the lease of the Octagon Earthworks to make it fully accessible to the public.
  • In May 2019, Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge W. David Branstool issued his decision that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio. At that time, a jury trial was scheduled to determine the value of the lease.
  • Moundbuilders Country Club appealed that decision to the Fifth District Court of Appeals, and the case was heard by a three judge panel in November 2019.
  • In January 2020, the Fifth District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Judge Branstool’s ruling that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks.
  • Immediately afterward, Moundbuilders Country Club filed with the Ohio Supreme Court to appeal the finding by the Fifth District Court. Citing the club’s pending appeal, Judge Branstool postponed the jury trial that will determine the value of the lease until after the Ohio Supreme Court returns the case to Licking County Common Pleas Court.
  • While waiting on the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, Ohio History Connection and Moundbuilders Country Club agreed to continue to prepare for the jury trial, which included acquiring the new appraisal.

As we move forward in our ongoing effort to make the Octagon Earthworks fully accessible to all, we will of course continue to provide you with regular progress updates. Thank you for your support of Ohio history.

Octagon Earthworks Update, 2.20.20

On January 29, 2020, Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool’s ruling that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks, and that the acquisition is both necessary and for a public purpose.

After the ruling, Moundbuilders Country Club filed notice with the Ohio Supreme Court that they intend to appeal the finding by the Fifth District Court. Citing the club’s pending appeal, Judge Branstool postponed the jury trial that will determine the value of the lease until after the Ohio Supreme Court returns the case to Licking County Common Pleas Court, which could take up to a year or more.  As we move forward in our ongoing effort to make the Octagon Earthworks fully accessible to all, we will continue to provide you with regular updates on our progress.

Octagon Earthworks Update, 1.29.20

Today Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Judge David Branstool’s ruling that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks. In his decision, Judge Branstool said, “Ohio History Connection has a public duty to operate, protect and maintain the Octagon Earthworks and promote the state memorial for public use.”

This latest decision by the Fifth District Court brings us closer to our goal of making the Octagon Earthworks accessible to all.
This site is part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks– which includes Fort Ancient, and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park – and represents the largest concentration of ancient American Indian monumental landscape architecture in the world. The earthworks display astonishing scope, beauty and precision and contain archaeological evidence of the remarkable American Indian culture that lived here 2,000 years ago.

Moundbuilders Country Club can appeal this latest ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court, which has discretion to accept their appeal. If the Ohio Supreme Court does not accept Moundbuilders’ appeal, the case would return to Judge Branstool and a jury trial will be held to determine the value of the lease.
As we move forward in our effort to make the Octagon Earthworks fully accessible to all, we will continue to share regular updates on our progress. See the full ruling from Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals here.

Octagon Earthworks Lease Acquisition Appeal Held 11.14.19

Today Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals heard arguments for Ohio History Connection to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks. In June 2019, Moundbuilders Country Club appealed Judge David Branstool’s decision that Ohio History Connection had the authority to acquire the lease. In that decision, Judge Branstool said, “Ohio History Connection has a public duty to operate, protect, and maintain the Octagon Earthworks and promote the state memorial for public use.” We agree, and we are committed to making this important place fully accessible to all.  The panel, Judges Patricia A. Delaney, William B. Hoffman and John W. Wise are expected to provide a written decision no later than summer 2020.

Octagon Earthworks Lease Acquisition Appeal Scheduled for 11.14.19

In May 2019 Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge W. David Branstool issued his decision that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio. The Moundbuilders Country Club appealed that decision in June 2019. Oral arguments for the appeal will be presented to a panel of three judges in the Fifth District Court of Appeals on November 14, 2019 at 9 a.m.

We are committed to making this National Historic Landmark fully accessible to the public and available for researchers. In his written decision, Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge David Branstool said, “Ohio History Connection has a public duty to operate, protect, and maintain the Octagon Earthworks and promote the state memorial for public use.” We agree, and we are committed to making this important place fully accessible to all.

Octagon Earthworks Update 06.13.19

Earlier this week, the Moundbuilders Country Club filed an appeal with the Fifth District Court of Appeals challenging the court decision that the Ohio History Connection has authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks. Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool has granted a stay of the jury trial that was scheduled for September 2019.  We anticipate that the appeal will be heard by the Fifth District Court sometime in the next year. We are committed to making this National Historic Landmark fully accessible to the public and available for researchers.

In his written decision, Judge Branstool said, “Ohio History Connection has a public duty to operate, protect, and maintain the Octagon Earthworks and promote the state memorial for public use.” We agree, and we are committed to making this important site accessible to all.

For additional information and updates, click here. To learn more about the Octagon Earthworks join us Oct. 13 for one of four annual Open Houses at the Octagon Earthworks.

Octagon Earthworks Update 05.13.19

Click here to read the Judge Branstool’s full decision. A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019 to determine the value of the lease. To learn more about the Octagon Earthworks visit ohiohistory.org/octagon and join us July 29 for one of four annual Open Houses at the Octagon Earthworks.

Octagon Earthworks Update 05.10.19

Judge Branstool Rules on Lease Acquisition at Octagon Earthworks

Today Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge W. David Branstool issued his decision that Ohio History Connection has the authority to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio.

“…the question is whether the OHC [Ohio History Connection] needs to take the property interest in order to achieve its proposed plan to restore full public access to the Octagon Earthworks, Clearly, the answer is yes,” Branstool said in his written decision. “The taking of the lease is necessary to secure the public use and restore full public access as proposed by the OHC [Ohio History Connection]. The Country Club agreed that the plan to restore full public access is incompatible with the operation of a country club and golf course on the premises. And the evidence overwhelmingly supported that conclusion.”

Branstool noted that Ohio History Connection made a good-faith effort to acquire the lease with Moundbuilders Country Club. After nearly five years of those negotiations, Ohio History Connection announced in August 2018 their intention to acquire the lease. In November 2018 the organization filed a petition in the Licking County Common Pleas Court, and Judge Branstool heard testimony in March and April 2019.

“Ohio History Connection has a public duty to operate, protect, and maintain the Octagon Earthworks and promote the state memorial for public use,” Branstool said in his written decision. “As scripture and song remind us: ‘to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose.’ Experience teaches. Knowledge accumulates. People learn. Values evolve. Things change. And sometimes, as here, the public interest is more important.”

“We are pleased with this thoughtful and fair decision from Judge Branstool,” said Ohio History Connection Executive Director and CEO Burt Logan. “Today marks an important step forward to make the Octagon fully accessible to the public.”

Ohio History Connection is responsible for protecting, preserving and sharing the Octagon Earthworks. As a National Historic Landmark, Ohio History Connection is committed to making the Octagon Earthworks fully accessible to the public and available to researchers.

A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019 to determine the value of the lease. To learn more about the Octagon Earthworks visit ohiohistory.org/octagon and join us July 29 for one of four annual Open Houses at the Octagon Earthworks.

Octagon Earthworks Update 04.11.19

On Monday, April 8, Licking County Common Pleas Judge Branstool heard the final testimony and closing arguments regarding the Ohio History Connection’s acquisition of the lease at the Octagon Earthworks. Specifically, the judge is ruling on the public use and necessity of our acquiring the lease. Final written statements by both parties are due to the judge by April 22 and a ruling is expected soon thereafter.  If he rules in our favor, a separate trial before a jury, is set for September 10 to determine the value of the lease.

Octagon Earthworks Update 03.21.19

As a National Historic Landmark, we are committed to making the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio fully accessible to the public and available to researchers. Earlier this week, Judge David Branstool heard our case to determine the public use and necessity to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks. The hearing will continue on April 8. If the court rules the acquisition of the lease is public and necessary, a separate trial will be held before a jury on September 10 to determine the value of the leasehold.

Octagon Earthworks Update 02.14.19

Our effort to acquire the lease at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark continues to move forward. The case was reassigned to Judge David Branstool and a hearing will be held on March 18. The purpose of this hearing will be to determine the public use and necessity of acquiring the lease at the Octagon Earthworks.  If the court rules the acquisition of the lease is public and necessary, a separate trial will be held before a jury on September 10 to determine the value of the leasehold.

Octagon Earthworks Update 01.24.19

In last week’s eNews (01.17.2019) we shared that the hearing on the lease acquisition at the Octagon Earthworks was scheduled for Jan 23. This week Ohio History Connection was informed that the hearing has been postponed because the presiding judge has recused himself. The case will be reassigned and a new hearing date will be established.

Octagon Earthworks Lease Acquisition Update 01.17.19

On Tuesday, January 14, the Ohio Attorney General, on behalf of the Ohio History Connection, filed a motion to request a hearing be scheduled with Judge Thomas Marcelain in the Licking County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Marcelain has scheduled the hearing on Wednesday, January 23 to determine the public use and necessity of acquiring the lease at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio.

As you know, Ohio History Connection has a responsibility to protect and preserve the Octagon Earthworks. As a National Historic Landmark, the current lack of access to the site is no longer acceptable. Full public access to the Octagon Earthworks will create new opportunities for visitors, the local community and academic researchers. It will also create the opportunity to put the Octagon Earthworks on the World Heritage list alongside Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Vatican City and Stonehenge.

Ohio History Connection owns the Octagon Earthworks site, which it leases to Moundbuilders Country Club. After years of negotiations, beginning in early 2013, with Moundbuilders Country Club, Ohio History Connection determined our only remaining option to ensure full public access to the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is to acquire the leasehold. On August 28, Ohio History Connection provided notice to the country club of intent to acquire the lease.  On November 28 the Ohio Attorney General filed a petition to acquire the lease. The country club responded to the petition January 10 and, per the Ohio Revised Code, initiated the Ohio History Connection’s request to set a hearing within five to 15 days of its response. If the court rules the acquisition of the lease is public and necessary, a separate hearing will be heard by a jury to determine the value of the leasehold.

Learn more about the Octagon Earthworks.

Octagon Earthworks Update 11.28.18

This morning, the Ohio Attorney General, on behalf of the Ohio History Connection, filed a petition with the Licking County Court of Common Pleas to acquire the leasehold at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark to ensure full public and research access to the site.

On August 28 we gave notice to MCC of our intent to acquire the lease.  More than 30 days have passed since, and we have not received any response from MCC.  The case has been assigned to Judge Thomas M. Marcelain, and Ohio History Connection will continue to be represented by the Ohio Attorney General.

Ohio History Connection to Acquire Octagon Earthworks Lease

Full Public Access to Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks Would Enable World Heritage Designation

 

(NEWARK, OH) – Ohio History Connection informed Moundbuilders Country Club today of its intention to acquire the leasehold at the Octagon Earthworks in Newark in order to ensure full public and research access to the site and to open the door for a UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage designation.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced this spring that the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, including the Octagon Earthworks, has been authorized to prepare a nomination for World Heritage, which would recognize the earthworks among the world’s most significant cultural wonders.

“We have a public responsibility to preserve Ohio’s historical and cultural treasures, and we are acting on behalf of that obligation today,” said Burt Logan, executive director of Ohio History Connection. “Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks would be Ohio’s first World Heritage site, which would tremendously benefit state and local residents, American Indian Tribes and history and culture enthusiasts worldwide.”

The World Heritage list was established by an international treaty, called the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. The treaty, signed by 193 countries, was adopted and is administered by UNESCO. World Heritage recognizes cultural and natural sites of global importance such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty. Today there are a total of 1,092 World Heritage sites, with 23 World Heritage sites located in the United States.

Ohio History Connection owns the Octagon Earthworks site, which it leases to Moundbuilders Country Club. After years of negotiations, beginning in early 2013, with Moundbuilders Country Club, Ohio History Connection has determined its only remaining option to ensure full public access to the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is to acquire the leasehold. If Ohio History Connection is unable to reach an agreement with the country club, the Ohio Attorney General will file for acquisition of the lease in Licking County Common Pleas Court.

Ohio’s Hopewell Earthworks – which include Octagon Earthworks, Fort Ancient, and Hopewell Cultural Historic National Park – represent the world’s largest concentration of ancient American Indian monumental landscape architecture. The earthworks display an astonishing scope, beauty and precision and contain archaeological evidence of the remarkable American Indian culture that lived here 2,000 years ago.

 

Posted August 28, 2018

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