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Greenway stumbles over artifacts

Greenway stumbles over artifacts


WATERBURY — An archaeologist has unearthed in a Naugatuck River Greenway park a handful of stone shards and a piece of a clay pipe dating back before Europeans settled here.

This discovery, made last fall, is one of two unexpected hurdles, along with a failing retaining wall, the city must resolve before moving ahead with plans to build a riverfront trail from Naugatuck to Eagle Street.

The project is already running six months behind its original plan for a fall 2015 groundbreaking, but project officials are confident they will resolve the artifact issue without much additional delay or cost.

The artifacts could not be tied to a particular date or tribe, said project manager Salvatore Porzio. At this time, the archaeologist can only say the shards and pipe date back to before European contact.

The city's consultant for the project, RBA Group, will use one of its staff archaeologists to conduct a more thorough dig of the artifact area as soon as the ground thaws to see if there is anything else to be found.

But additional finds would pose no threat to the completion of the trail, said RBA's urban planning director, Jackson Wandres. The artifacts were found in the woods of the park, not on the trail path, he said.

If more was found, the city could add an interpretative sign somewhere in the park to educate the public about the area's pre-contact history, said Wandres. It can only add to the public's enjoyment of the park, he said.

The cost of this next archaeological dig is no more than $20,000.

The other outstanding issue that has contributed to a delay in building the first leg of what the city hopes will be a 7.7 mile city trail is who will pay for the repair of a crumbling retaining wall on South Main Street.

The state Department of Transportation owns the retaining wall, but it could take a long time for the state agency to add that $1 million repair to its long list of road maintenance projects.

Mayor Neil M. O'Leary met with James P. Redeker, the commissioner of the state transportation agency, last week to ask him to make the repair a top priority. As of Tuesday, the city had no official response. 

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