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Art Museum officials, veterans continue to fight over War Memorial

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Art Museum officials say they want will help fix up the War Memorial Center, but with one catch -- they get control. That's not sitting well with Milwaukee area veterans.

Charles Mulcahy is with a group called the "Veterans Community Relations Team." The group's members are fighting a proposal to turn over maintenance responsibilities at the War Memorial Center over to the Milwaukee Art Museum. This would turn the memorial into a subleaser.

The idea was created over a year ago, when an audit of the memorial revealed it was in a desperate state of disrepair. The Art Museum came forward with a $25 million public/private partnership to fix up the buildings.

Now, this veterans' group wants the public funds to go straight to the memorial corporation.

"This is sacred land. We're not going to be a subtenant to anyone," Mulcahy said.

The only problem is, the veterans are not actually involved with negotiations.

'This veterans' community relations team, is not part of the War Memorial Corporation structure so I don't understand frankly who they represent or under what authority they are speaking or even making demands.  To me, this is nonsense," Daniel Keegan said.

Keegan is part of the negotiations. As the Art Museum's director, he says all they want to do is help maintain the bricks and mortar -- not take over the memorial.

"The War Memorial would manage and control its own space, and the Art Museum manages and controls its own space,"

Still, the veterans' group argues the museum only has one choice -- accept the recent proposal.

"This could end up very nicely now or it could end up where we will have hundreds of people throughout this community presenting the message of the treachery that took place," Mulcahy said.

The land both the Art Museum and the War Memorial occupy is owned by Milwaukee County. Both groups lease the land from the government.

Last September, the Art Museum's director had said he hoped to reach an agreement by late fall. Now, he said he doesn't know when a deal may come, as he no longer knows just who they're negotiating with.