postheadericon Burial Ground May Be at School Septic Site

school_aerial2The Lansing Central School District has received word that a new septic system planned for Lansing Middle School may conflict with a Native American burial site.  School Administrator Mary June King told the Board of Education that experts at Tetra Tech Architects and Engineers are in the process of determining whether an expensive site survey will be needed.  A project to spend up to $4,100,000 to replace the district's three failing septic systems, including the Middle School's septic, was approved by voters in May.

"The state has requested that the district conduct a Phase 1 Archeological Survey," King said.  "We are putting that septic system right in where the previous septic was.  We wouldn't be disturbing new ground.  This letter from the Office of Historic Preservation talks about the depth we may have to go to now and things of that nature."

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) specifies three phases of exploration to determine that capital projects will not impact cultural resources.  They call the Phase I survey 'Reconnaissance', a two part study that includes a search of literature and determines the cultural sensitivity of an area.  The second phase is an actual survey of the area, including subsurface soil testing.  If no cultural resources are found the project is cleared for construction.

King said there has probably been disturbance of the septic system site going back to the 1920s.  At this point school officials say that it is not clear whether there actually is a burial ground near the site.  The new septic system is planned for the same location as the existing system.

"It may not be on top of the site," said Superintendent Chris Pettograsso.  "They also mentioned proximity.  The distance away from a site has gotten more strict over the years.  So they talked about testing the soil."

King said that Tetra Tech has experts on this issue, and are in communication with experts at Cornell University, including an archaeologist.

"They're going to try to get some expert analysis from those folks on the archaeological site and the sensitivity of the site," King said.  "Tetra Tech thinks that it's in proximity to the site, but it's not directly related to where a burial site was.  They're going to do everything they can before we get involved in a Phase 1 Archaeological Survey, because that can be very expensive.  It remains to be seen what is going to happen with that."

When completed the new septic systems will each have a 9,000 gallon septic tank with double-pass sand-bed filters, set-aside areas with 30 year expected useful life, various sizes/lengths of piping, manholes, and structures, a distribution valve, vault and controls and an ultra violet disinfection and pump station, with sod over filter bed.  They are expected to have a design flow of under 10,000 gallons per day.

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