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Waukesha County Clears Landmarks Hurdle in New Building Project

Neighborhood residents brought forward concerns about altering view, course at Moor Downs Golf Course.

Waukesha County received approval Wednesday from the Landmarks Commission as it moves forward on plans to build its new Health and Human Services building and storage garage on the Moors Down Golf Course.

The new construction will shorten the fifth hole on the golf course but the golf course is still longer than it was in 1963, according to information given during the meeting.

The Landmarks Commission voted four to three after hours of discussion Wednesday night to issue a certificate of appropriateness for the project., which is on a site that is designated as a local landmark. Some area neighbors were unhappy with the proposal because of the potential change of scenery. Others were displeased with the project’s plan to shorten the fifth hole.

Katie Clancy, who lives on Buena Vista Avenue near the golf course, presented a petition with about five dozen signatures looking to keep the property unaltered.

Clancy said she was not excited about looking out her window and seeing the new Health and Human Services building.

“I love the natural view of the property as it sits today,” Clancy said.

Dale Shaver, the Waukesha County parks and land use director, and the project’s architect, Kurt Zimmerman, went into great detail explaining how the site was selected, including least impact to the golf course and soil quality.  Shaver also presented Waukesha County’s comprehensive master plan.

Shaver said the county met with the area neighbors for hours about the project and there “seemed to be a general comfort that county was trying our best to tuck this building back in and landscape it the best we can.”

“I think it is fair to say that if they had their druthers, they would prefer nothing happened there,” Shaver said. “I respect that. Unfortunately, as an occupant of grounds, we have to make some construction decisions over time.”

Waukesha resident Terry Booth spoke during the Landmarks Commission meeting and stated his concerns about the viability of continuing the golf course if changes were made to the course. Booth shared his worries that if the golf course was altered too much, the golf course would decline in use and eventually end.

Shaver, when questioned by Booth, estimated that Moor Downs Golf Course exceeds its revenue by about $120,000 a year, meaning the golf course does not turn a profit for the county and is subsidized by the taxpayers.

“There is just a continued encroachment on the golf course,” Booth said. “… Pretty soon it affects the viability of the golf course.”

Commissioner Mary Baer told the county employees involved in the project she was pleased with the amount of details they presented during Wednesday’s meeting, especially after questions arose after the May meeting.

“We really are concerned about keeping the integrity of the grounds,” said Baer, who ultimately voted to issue the certificate of appropriateness. Steve Esser, Susan Dregne and Alan Huelsman also voted to approve the project’s appropriateness.

Reginald Sprecher, Grail Cappozzo and Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings voted against it.

“Moor Downs represents more than just the golfers. Moor Downs represents more than just the neighbors,” Cummings said. “It represents the history of Waukesha. … We are afraid of losing it.”

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