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Soccer field may be excavated
FALL CITY _ More than two weeks after Native-American
artifacts were found by crews building a soccer field here, the question of what
will be done next remains undecided.
The King County Park System and the Snoqualmie Tribe are
considering three options. Andy de los Angeles, an ethnoarchaeologist and
former chairman of the Tribe, said two proposals involve excavating the site.
One proposal calls for a complete excavation, while the other recommends
a partial excavation. A third option is to cover up the site.
But de los Angeles said the artifacts shouldn't have been dug up
in the first place.
"They didn't follow our recommendation when I was chairman.
We knew there was a site there," he said.
De los Angeles said the Tribe had previously recommended that
instead of removing soil to level the ground, topsoil should be brought in to
cover the site. That way any artifacts buried in the soil would be protected.
Butch Lovelace, program manager for the King County Park System,
said the county knew of the Tribe's recommendation, but planning for the
soccer field had taken several years, and during that time personnel involved
in the project changed. He said the recommendation didn't make it
through the various personnel changes.
"The project has been going on for a number of years," he said. "The
issues that needed to be communicated were not." Lovelace added,
"There was no deliberate intention or
desire" to not follow the Tribe's recommendation.
Al Dams, spokesman for the King County Park System, and
Charlie Sundberg, preservation planner for the King County Landmark and
Heritage Program, both said it was known more than 10 years ago that the site
contained Native-American artifacts. The soccer field was being constructed
at the county-owned Fall City Community Park near State Route 203
and Neal Road.
"It contains a state-registered archaeological site," Sundberg said.
"I think it was found during the mid-1980s."
Dams said a piece of machinery called a "sod stripper" was used at
the site to remove soil. He said no arrowheads were found during
construction, and as soon as artifacts were discovered by an on-site archaeologist,
work was halted.
"It was found by the archaeologist who was on the site while the
brush clearing was occurring. That's what she was there for," he said.
"What was found was burnt rock, charcoal and flint, which
essentially is fire pits and the stuff you find in
a fire pit," Dams said.
After the artifacts were found, a fence was erected around the site
and members of the Tribe camped there to protect it. De los Angeles said that
just days after the artifacts were discovered, looting occurred.
"The site was already vandalized," he said.
The artifacts were found by an archaeologist from Northwest
Archaeological Associates of Seattle. Northwest Archaeological Associates
had contracted with the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer Association,
which was building the soccer field.
When contacted, Chris Miss, the archaeologist at the site, referred
questions to county park officials and the Tribe.
Soon after the materials were found, a meeting was held
between the different parties to discuss the findings. Dams said nothing was
decided at the meeting, including what to do with the artifacts that were dug up.
"You could just cover up the site. You could excavate the site.
Potentially those are the two options," he said.
"Now how we move forward and still build a soccer field is
De los Angeles said the site dates back 3,500 years, but that
"We could see it as an older site if we are allowed to collect data,"
He said he expects the artifacts that were recovered would eventually
be given back to the Tribe, and, "If we find remains, of course, they'll be
Bud Raisio, president of the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer
Association, said the prospects for completing the soccer field are grim.
The new field was supposed to help the organization's bulging roster,
which currently serves more than 2,000 Valley kids, 5 to 17 years old. The
association fields approximately 250 teams.
Without a new soccer field, Raisio said, it's possible more kids won't
be able to play.
"In a couple of areas we have restricted participation because of
lack of playing space," he said. Because of the work stoppage on the site, he
said, "This will be more frequent."
Raisio said the association was building a full-sized soccer
field, which could be divided into smaller playing fields.
"The Fall City field was just going to be such a perfect site for us,"
The field was being paid for with a county Youth Sports Facility
Grant. The county approved $50,000 for the site, while the soccer association
But with no soccer field and no definitive word on what will
happen to the site, Raisio said the association has moved on to "Plan B."
"We're out searching again (for another site)," he said.
Dams said he is optimistic a soccer field will eventually be located
on the land.
"I just will say we haven't given up on the project," he said,
although he warned, "There will not be a soccer field this year. That's for sure."
Lovelace said the county wants to work with the Tribe to arrive at a
solution, but it won't happen overnight.
"This is new territory for a number of people. We don't want to
rush ahead and do the wrong thing," he said.
"The relationship with the Tribe is important to us, and we don't want
to move too quickly without having a clear directive from (the Tribe) and
a clear understanding."