Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

State Okays Park Land for Golf Course

Course owner, industrialist Herbert Kohler, gave $400,000 to Walker, other Republicans.

By - Mar 2nd, 2018 10:34 am
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
The bright clouds over the sand dune trails at Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin

The bright clouds over the sand dune trails at Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin. Photo via Good Free Photos

The Natural Resources Board approved a deal to give a major Republican campaign contributor state park land for a new high-end golf course he is building on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Plans for the 247-acre, 18-hole course call for about five acres of forest and wetland in the Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County to build a golf course maintenance facility and service road. The course is being built by the Kohler Co., whose owner, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., is a major contributor to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The board voted Wednesday to swap about five acres of park land valued at nearly $60,000 on the northern edge of the park for nearly 10 acres of land valued at $295,000 owned by the Kohler Co. on the western edge of the park. The deal also gives Kohler an easement of almost two acres to the main entrance road of the park and other land in order to extend a road to the planned maintenance building.

The controversial golf course project, which was announced in 2015, is opposed by a group of area residents who argue that the land being given up is of high ecological value and that the board does not have the authority to give away state park land in this case.

Kohler and other supporters of the project say it will boost the local economy and employ more than 200 people.

Kohler Co. employees contributed $60,765 between January 2010 and June 2017 to legislative and statewide candidates. Most of the employee contributions – $48,500 – were made by Herbert Kohler.

Herbert Kohler contributed $40,000 to Walker, $5,000 to GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $2,000 to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, and $1,500 to former GOP Sen. Joe Leibham, of Sheboygan, between January 2010 and June 2017.

Kohler Co. has built two other high-end 18-hole golf courses in Wisconsin – Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, which was the site of the PGA Championship in 2004, 2010 and 2015.

6 thoughts on “Campaign Cash: State Okays Park Land for Golf Course”

  1. Terry says:

    Pay to play in Walker’s Wississippi!
    Now get out of the way nature! Career Politician Scott Walker and Republicans have some quid pro quo favors to return!

    Dump Walker 2018

  2. Jake currently of the MKE says:

    Flat out cronyism that Republicans defend and champion. They are tyrants.

  3. GRNDPAKWH says:

    So Sad.

  4. mbradleyc says:

    “The board voted Wednesday to swap about five acres of park land valued at nearly $60,000 on the northern edge of the park for nearly 10 acres of land valued at $295,000 owned by the Kohler Co. on the western edge of the park.”

    And you guys are whining about this? Wisconsin has become a destination golf mecca. Largely if not wholly because of Kohler. Rich people from all over the world fly here to play golf and spend money. Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straights, Erin Hills, now Sand Valley. This course could be the best of them all! PGA, US Open, Ryder’s Cup, repeat. This is what successful economic development looks like.

    SMH!

  5. Tom says:

    Boo. The rich people can golf without taking our rare lakeshore parkland. The politicized and for-sale state DNR should find another solution.

  6. TransitRider says:

    mbradleyc, It’s not 5 acres being swapped for 10. For one thing, the state’s not getting 10 acres; it’s actually getting less (“nearly 10 acres”). For another, the state is really giving up 7 acres, not 5—the 5 outright plus another 2 acres of “easement”. (Will Kohler pay property taxes on the easement parcel?).

    Assuming the easement is long and skinny (a road) the park effectively loses more, since land near (but just outside) the easement loses value with a private road running past.

    And exactly where are these parcels of land? The article says the 5 acres the state gives up is on the park’s northern edge while the 10 acres it gets is on its western edge. How close to the lake are those northern 5 acres? Do they have lake views? The land the state receives in return (west of today’s park) undoubtedly has no lake views and is therefore less valuable per acre (suggesting that the article’s appraised values are bogus).

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us