Friday, February 11, 2005
Indian stones threaten Benfield Land development and schedules
displayed a map with an area in roughly the shape of a pentagon to encompass this "ceremonial landscape." What would he recommend with regard to this sacred area? His requests are clear and simple: (1) Any construction should not disturb the existing features as defined in the survey report; (2) Certain important sight lines should not be interrupted; (3) Runoff debris should not be allowed to impinge on the vicinity of the features; (4) Sewage pipes from sewage systems including leach fields should not run through the areas defined in the study report. And where is this pentagonal ceremonial landscape located with respect to the proposed building site? It falls exactly on top of it — it encompasses the area identified for affordable housing.
Chair John Ballantine pointed out the irony of the situation to everyone in the Clark Room. Under ordinary circumstances, a private developer would be able to proceed with construction, ignoring Native American resistance if it had no legal backing. Carlisle, however, is seeking matching funds from the state and must abide by any General Laws pertaining thereto. The Massachusetts Historical Commission, in a letter to Task Force member Phyllis Zinicola, states that before any proposed construction is begun, any historical or archaeological resource must undergo an intensive survey under a permit from the State Archaeologist. Such construction includes buildings, athletic fields, access roads, parking areas, septic systems, utilities, and/or drainage impoundments, all of which are planned for the Benfield Parcel A.
Seeing no alternative, the Task Force voted to authorize funding to hire an archaeologist to determine the authenticity of the claims made by Harris. Even if such an authority can be hired, the next problem is that the Benfield Land is covered with snow and will not be visible until March, and the results will not be known for some weeks later.
Ballantine ended the meeting by requesting that Harris and John Winslow get together with the remote hope that some compromise can be negotiated to reduce the severe restrictions being placed upon the town project.
Reached this week, Ballantine said that the Task Force plans to meet with the Massachusetts Historical Commission to review the evidence and to clarify whether an archaeological study will be needed.
© 2005 The