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Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:13

Macon alters ball field plans to avoid Cherokee gravesite

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The Parker Meadows project is taking a slight turn after the discovery of a Cherokee gravesite launched a series of meetings and negotiations between the county and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

 

“We have rotated the fields to accommodate that [gravesite] to where it is no longer on a playing surface,” said Seth Adams, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. “It is actually located in-between two fields.”

The original plans had called for the area where the grave was discovered to become part of a baseball field, but when the grave was found, the Eastern Band made it clear they did not want to see their ancestor’s remains buried or moved. 

“I appreciate the friendship our tribe has with Macon County leaders,” Principal Chief Michell Hicks said in an emailed statement. “I want to thank them for their willingness to protect the cultural resources important to our tribe and to the history of Macon County.”

The tribe and the county are continuing to talk, though, because changing the plans is expected to cost about $250,000. County Manager Derek Roland would like the tribe to help with that bill.

“We’re still in negotiations with the Eastern Band in terms of any help they’re willing to give us,” Roland said 

However, the project is still on track to fall within its $3.3 million budget and meet its July 2015 timeline for completion. 

“We are still in the rough grading phase,” Adams said. “All the big ball fields are cut in now. The main road and parking areas are in. We have a drive that goes all the way through it now. It is not graveled, but it’s graded. We are starting on the small [youth-size] ball fields now.”

Only one part of the property, a 40-foot by 100-foot area, has yet to undergo an archeological survey. It’s possible that another gravesite could be discovered there, but unlikely.  

“It was in an area where there was very, very little stuff found in the initial survey, so we feel good about not coming across anything else,” Adams said. 

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