Tucson group claims city began project on protected land - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Tucson group claims city began project on protected land

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TUCSON- A historical preservation group is upset over the way a historical site was handled by the City of Tucson. 

The non-profit, Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, works to recreate and preserve historic Tucson sites. 

Roger Pfeuffer, Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace Co-Chair, said on Monday morning he witnessed construction machinery on a historic site. 

The site is four acres and sits northeast of the Mission Garden. Pfeuffer said the land is the original site of the Mission San Augustin. He said there are artifacts and human burial sites on the land. 

“In 2016, we got the City of Tucson to pass a resolution to protect that property only to be used for historical recreation or preservation,” he said. 

After witnessing the machinery, Roger said, Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace members contacted city officials. 

City of Tucson spokesperson, Lane Mandle, said the city contracted Sundt for a landfill remediation project. She said the project was approved by the Mayor and City Council in August 2017.

Lane said as soon as city officials were contacted by the group, the machinery was relocated. Officials later met with the contractor and a member from Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace. 

She said the Sundt crews were not working on a historic area. 

“Some of the landfill remediation will run adjacent to some historical areas but they do not overlap,” said Mandle.

Pfeuffer said he disagrees. 

“They were on that four acres. What we got passed by the city protecting that site is for all of that four acres, whether it was on landfill,” he said.

Mandle said the city will send archaeologists to the site in the next week.

“That plan will involve fencing off any sensitive areas, and then doing a continuous monitoring by an archaeologist whenever the contractor is working near those sites,” she said. 

Pfeuffer said that is a good idea, but the site should be “honored” and handled with extreme care. 

“We do not have a problem with the remediation of the landfill, which will allow us actually to build the kind of things that we want to on that entire site, to reconstruct the wall, etc. But, it needs to be done in a surgical way, rather than a mass, kind of huge, construction.”

Mandle said nothing of archaeological significance was disturbed while crews were in the area Monday. 

Pfeuffer said he "hopes so, but we don't know that when we see big equipment rolling across property they shouldn't be on in the first place".

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