Officials are in communication with Eastern Band.
The Parker Meadows recreation complex project hit a road bump last week. While grading a section of the property that is expected to eventually be the outfield of one of the ball fields, human remains were uncovered in what appeared to be a gravesite.
Macon County Recreation Director Seth Adams explained that what appeared to be teeth were found around some dark spots in an oval shape that was assumed to be a gravesite. Macon officials anticipated something similar happening and took precautions by hiring an archeologist to be on site during the grading portion of areas previously identified as possible locations for artifacts or remains.
Since the project’s inception, Macon County has worked closely with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to ensure no Native American artifacts were disturbed or destroyed during the development of the recreation complex. Because the property was located near water, archeological assessments were done before beginning the project, and although the report showed areas to watch closely during the development, overall, the property was cleared of being a site of significant artifacts.
The remains found may not be Native American, but could be from an early settler to the region, but out of respect for the EBCI and the relationship Macon County has formed, County Manager Derek Roland said that the state archeologist’s office along with the EBCI were immediately informed of the findings.
During Tuesday night’s meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners, commission chair Kevin Corbin informed the public that development around where the remains were found had stopped pending further review and to give Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks and other members of the tribe time to visit the gravesite. According to Corbin, that meeting is expected to take place at the end of next week.
“We wanted to ensure that whatever actions we take will be respectful of the Eastern Band,” said Roland Tuesday night. “We have forged a great working relationship with the tribe and want to make sure that we continue that throughout this project.”
Roland and members of the commission met with Hicks in Cherokee Monday to discuss possible ways of moving forward. The findings will not stop the project altogether and the county has several options on how to handle the findings including burying the remains deeper so they will not be disturbed or extracting and relocating the remains.
Fencing contract approved
Although the grading portion has slowed due to the findings, the county unanimously voted to award the project’s fencing bid Tuesday night. The county received two bids that included the work on eight pairs of 20’ tall foul poles and fencing around the multipurpose court.
Commissioners awarded the bid to A&T Fence, Inc., a family-owned business that has been operating for more than 40 years. A&T delivered the lowest of the two bids submitted, and with a bid of $223,719.16, was lower than Asheville Fence by about $80,000.