Mary Emery doesn't want Moor Downs Golf Course to become another casualty.
Over the last two years, the president of the Waukesha Preservation Alliance has watched Waukesha County officials make it known they didn't have any use for the one-time Moor Mud Baths Resort, a building that is part of a site on the National Historic Register of Places.
In turn, she watched as the county board then denied a request from a developer to reuse the building, which was most recently the county's former Health and Human Services building, and turn it into senior housing.
With the county including money in its 2016 budget to tear down the building this year to make way for parking spaces and putting the site's landmark status in jeopardy, could the golf course be in danger next?
For its part, the city has made its intention clear: It doesn't want the county — or anyone — touching the 100-year-old course, which is adjacent to several county facilities, including the county courthouse and several administrative offices.
Keep Moor Downs intact
Earlier this month, the council unanimously approved a resolution that supports keeping the Moor Downs Golf Course in its current condition and not used for future development.
The resolution was first brought forward by Alderman Eric Payne, and it centered on the county not expanding its office or jail facilities, something many residents and city officials have worried about happening.
But with the city now using the broader word of "development" it sends a message it doesn't want any developer impeding on the golf course in the event the land is sold to a private developer.
"(It's a) proper time to make a statement and let (the county) know where we stand on it," Payne said.
The site's landmark status includes the one-time hotel building, golf course, clubhouse and one-time spring house. The Moor Mud Baths Resort site was given local landmark status by the city of Waukesha in 2001.
"How the elements play upon each other and interrelate gives it significance," Emery said. "The Moor Mud Baths Resort is the last intact resort from the city of Waukesha."
Course not profitable
Emery was joined at last month's council meeting by many residents showing their support for the course, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015. They all are concerned about the county's future expansion plans for the site.
Shawn Lundie, who serves as the county executive's chief of staff, said the county doesn't have any immediate plans for expansion.
Moor Downs, a nine-hole course at 438 Prospect Ave., is one of three golf courses owned and operated by Waukesha County. But it's the only public course in the city of Waukesha.
That fact is reason enough for Alderman Aaron Perry to support the course.
"We don't want to pick fights with the county, we don't want to pick fights with the county executive, but I think this is an issue that is reasonable," Perry said. "We draw a line in the sand and say we don't want our golf course being built on, because we don't have another one. This is our one public golf course that our kids and seniors and every other citizen get to use.
"To not have a public golf course (being the seventh largest city in the state) would be a detriment to us."
The other two county courses are Naga-Waukee War Memorial Golf Course in Pewaukee and Wanaki Golf Course in Menomonee Falls. Lundie said Naga-Waukee is the only course that is profitable. In 2013, Moor Downs lost $174,451, $137,320 in 2014, and despite nearly 20,000 total rounds played (a nearly 900-round increase from 2014), 2015 was projecting a loss of approximately $135,000, Lundie said.
"Expenses far outweigh the revenue," Lundie said.
However, the county is taking measures to limit its expenses at Moor Downs, something it has been looking to do for years.
David Burch, design and enterprise manager in the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use Department, said Moor Downs is eliminating its full-time clubhouse supervisor and isn't replacing another full-time maintenance employee who operated the surrounding campus grounds as well as the golf course.
Burch said the clubhouse supervisors at Naga-Waukee and Wanaki will come to Moor Downs a couple of days a week to check up on the course.
Moor Downs' staff, as a result, will all just be part-time seasonal employees, Burch said.
"The staffing changes are driven by the budget," Burch said. "We're trying to improve the bottom line."
Changes not sitting well
The county's cost-cutting measures don't sit well with resident Ron Kading, a longtime golfer at Moor Downs.
"That's doomed for failure," he predicted. "That's not going to work."
Kading called the course, which has also hosted Special Olympics of Wisconsin's Outdoor Sports Tournament in recent years, "a gem."
Kading's frustrations stem from the course being altered in recent years. Kading said the fourth hole has been given a new look after a shared maintenance building was moved to just east of the fourth hole when the new HHS building was built. The county's new HHS building, which opened in late 2013, also eliminated part of the fifth hole.
"It's a disaster hole now," Kading said.
It's not just golfers who want to see the course preserved, though.
Aldermen Vance Skinner and Kathleen Cummings, along with other residents who spoke at last month's council meeting, said the green space in the heart of the city that Moor Downs is situated on shouldn't be taken for granted.
"It's our opportunity," Cummings said, "to say in one voice that this piece of ground is important to the city of Waukesha."