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

could change.

"We could see it as an older site if we are allowed to collect data,"

he said.

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,"

he said.

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

contributed $25,000.

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."

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