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Family's efforts to preserve Eble Barn lessening

May 20, 2014

The Eble Barn is still standing.

For now.

Relatives' efforts to save Florence Eble's barn in Eble Park continue, although the family has become split on its desired outcome. Waukesha County officials continue to insist the disassembling of the barn is inevitable, although no time-line has yet been set.

Eble's barn was part of a donation to the county in 1987. The county says its responsibility to maintain the barn ended with Eble's passing in 1995.

"The agreement of the donation clearly says there is no expectation for the county to keep the barn," Waukesha County Director of Parks and Land Use Dale Shaver said.

Eble's grandniece, Elaine Moss, remains steadfast in her efforts to keep the barn from being demolished, but she acknowledged that efforts on the part of the family have started to lessen.

"We've tried a lot of different avenues. Everybody's been trying to do stuff. Previously the family was all behind it," Moss said. "At this point, the majority of the family is saying 'stop (fighting it).'"

Moss notes that many within her family changed their minds upon seeing the county's future plans for the park, which may include a picnic area shelter made partially from materials taken from the barn.

"I think the plan for the park is really nice. I just hoped that the barn would stay and be a part of it," Moss said.

Moss acknowledged that preservation of the barn would be expensive and that there are a number of liability issues surrounding it. Still, she believes that Eble's donation was made in good faith that the barn would continue to be maintained.

"There's no one in the family that thought the barn would be torn down. I think (the agreement) was done in a day when you knew all the county folks and it was kind of implied," Moss said. "They showed us the deed, and I agree that it doesn't specifically say that they would maintain it. We ran it by a couple of real estate lawyers, and they said we could try but we probably weren't going to win."

The cost to rehabilitate the barn has been estimated at $89,000, and Shaver said it would cost even more to upgrade the structure to make it a desirable place for public use.

"The county has not finalized any plans to remove the barn," Shaver said. "At this point, we've not moved ahead with anything."

But demolition is inevitable, he said.

Moss has branched out in her efforts to preserve the barn, including looking into relocating the structure.

"To say we've given up? Not yet," Moss said. "I know we probably should, but I just can't."

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