Members of the Moundbuilders Country Club will continue to play on their golf course and enjoy their country club into the foreseeable future.

Citizens who wish to experience the Octagon Earthworks, recently designated a World Heritage site, will continue to be limited to a small grassy area with a viewing platform, except for four days a year, when the site just west of 30th Street in Newark is open to tours and general viewing.

That is the result of a delay in a jury trial that was scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, in Licking County Common Pleas Court in Newark. It is now scheduled for July 15. The purpose of the trial is to determine valuation of the Moundbuilders Country Club, so that the Ohio History Connection can take sole possession of the site and create a park open to the public. 

Brad Lepper, archeologist for the Ohio History Connection, conducted a tour of the Octagon Earthworks as a World Heritage site Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. Credit: Doug Swift

The Ohio History Connection, which owns the land and leases it to the Moundbuilders Country Club, was found to be within its rights to buy out the lease that was to run through 2078. The Ohio Supreme Court made that ruling on Dec. 7, 2022. The last step in the matter is to allow a jury to settle how much the Ohio History Connection must pay the country club to settle the lease. 

Jury selection never got started for Tuesday’s trial. Instead, the morning began with Judge David Branstool hearing a motion from the Moundbuilders Country Club on the question of which witnesses could appear. 

Then a pattern developed of, first, the group of lawyers representing the country club entering the judge’s chambers, then the group representing the Ohio History Connection entering. It appeared that negotiations were underway for a settlement. This pattern repeated at least a half dozen times.

After about two hours, the jury was released. No public announcements were made by the court, or any of the lawyers.

Neil Thompson, manager of media and public relations for the Ohio History Connection, would say only that ”The trial is continued to July.”