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Nov 6, 2013 7:26 PM by Sam Salzwedel

Park being built on ancient village

TUCSON - Pima County has spent more than $500,000 for archaeology on a new park.

Paseo de las Iglesias is being built on the Santa Cruz River bank north of Ajo Way.

Dale Selechta has been exploring that stretch of the river for decades.

"I got no problem with walkers or riders," Selechta said. "I got a problem with digging up 1,500-year-old sacred burial ground."

Courtney Rose works for the Pima County Sustainability and Conservation Department. She said it is not really considered a burial site, but they have found burials.

Rose has been making sure the project follows all local, state and federal guidelines. She said the Tohono O'odham tribe has also approved.

"Cultural resources are non-renewable," Rose said. "And there is no way to recover them once they are destroyed."

The project is being called an "ecological restoration." It is not going to be full of sports fields. Some of the park has been redesigned to avoid sensitive areas. Locations of restrooms and parking lots have been thoroughly excavated before construction.

"There won't even be planting in area where there are deep archaeological deposits," Rose said. "Because we don't want the water infiltrating and disturbing the context of the archaeological remains."

After it is finished, interpretive trails will explain what was and still is underground. Some discoveries were thousands of years old. There was at least one Hohokam village on the site.

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