Road work must wait for archeological dig

Mill Street residents won’t have work start on the flood-prone road until workers can find out if there are any Native American artifacts buried there.

By: Linda Seida
   STOCKTON — Mill Street residents have waited years for the borough to come up with the money to fix the road’s drainage problems.
   Now that the money is available, they still may have to wait a while longer for repairs.
   An archeological dig is scheduled to get under way this week to determine if any Native American artifacts are buried there.
   If artifacts are discovered, no one’s sure yet what kind of delay it could mean for the roadwork, according to Council President Michael Hagerty. The State Historic Preservation Office would have to make the determination, he said.
   The state Department of Environmental Resources was able to stipulate that a dig take place because of the government funds being used to finance the roadwork, Mayor Gregg Rackin said.
   The full-day dig was scheduled to take place Wednesday (June 28). But because of the rain, it was postponed to Wednesday, July 5.
   "It really comes back to (the fact that) we have DOT financing that needs to be awarded Aug. 1 if we’re going to proceed with this project this fall," Mr. Hagerty said. "We’ll get there eventually; it’s just how much and when."
   An earlier exploration that took place years ago at a site at the southern edge of Mill Street found pre-Colombian Native American artifacts, including arrowheads and flint. They were discovered on the land formerly owned by My Ben Corp., which the borough preserved as open space last year.
   The digging this week will occur not in the roadbed, but in yards along Mill Street where the borough holds easements to install a storm drain, Mr. Hagerty said. A total of 41 "shovel tests" will be performed, and they’ll consist of experts sifting through shovelfuls of excavated dirt, looking for artifacts. The depth of the shovel tests in most spots will be about 4 feet, but in several spots, the tests will extend 13 feet.
   Last week, the council awarded a $4,200 contract to Cultural Resources Consulting Group of Highland Park to oversee the excavation. CRCG is the same company that oversaw the previous excavation of Native American artifacts.