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By Charles J. Dawes
It is wonderful that an open, public dialogue is now under way regarding the Newark Octagon Mound complex, leased to Moundbuilders Country Club by the Ohio Historical Society. It is my hope that a reasonable solution may be found concerning proper interpretation, preservation and public use of the site for the benefit of everyone, including country club members!
The Ohio Historical Society has contracted the firm of Gray and Pape to make recommendations concerning the site. Good! It is important that everyone understand there are alternative uses for the Newark Earthworks which do not include maintaining it as a golf course. The Newark Earthworks was designated as a National Landmark in July of 1964 and as such did qualify for some grants and funding as sought by the Ohio Historical Society. Some of my comments as appeared in The Advocate on Aug. 11 therefore should be amended to reflect this.
My primary point remains unchanged -- if the Octagon Earthworks are ever to be used and fully enjoyed by the public, one day the golf course will have to go. To accomplish this, tremendous resources of private and public funding will have to be garnered. It is my belief that the Ohio Historical Society has the responsibility to spearhead such a project -- it is the agency's obligation and charge.
Despite my own love of golf, personal friendship with country club members and the staff at the Ohio Historical Society, I believe it is in the best interest of the people everywhere that an alternative location be found for the golf course, and that plans be made to move the country club. The mounds belong to all people. The Ohio Historical Society is charged with the responsibility for proper use, preservation, protection and interpretation of the site. The country club will have to move if there is ever to be true public enjoyment, education and peace at the site.
A personal story is in order. The Dawes Arboretum was founded in 1929 by my grandparents, Beman and Bertie Dawes. It was their incredible vision and generosity which transformed beautiful Licking County farmland into a magnificent public garden visited annually by hundreds of thousands of people. If this was the accomplishment of two people, think what the potential in Licking County would be for a transformed Newark Earthworks, returned to its original glory as the largest earthworks of its kind in the world and open to the use and enjoyment by all! The potential for economic stimulation of Licking County through tourist dollars as well as educational and cultural enlightenment is staggering!
The public deserves the best effort from the leaders of Licking County (many of whom are country club members) and the staff of the Ohio Historical Society to come to terms with decisions of the past. The reality is there are many places to play golf, but there is only one place to visit the Newark Octagon Mound and related archaeological sites.
It is time, pure and simple, for the country club, not the public, to move. Four!
Charles J. Dawes, of Marietta, is a former resident of Licking County. He is a founding trustee of the Licking County Archeology and Landmarks Foundation and is also the great-great-grandson, Beman Gates, founder of what is now known as the Ohio Historical Society.
I believe it is in the best interest of the people everywhere that an alternative location be found for the golf course, and that plans be made to move the country club.
Originally published Saturday, August 24, 2002
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