By Kellie Patrick Gates
If you’ve got anything you want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider while it ponders giving SugarHouse Casino permission to build into the Delaware River, it’s time to tell them.
The Corps’ public comment period begins tomorrow – that’s Wednesday, March 5 – and ends April 4. Anyone who has something to say can go here to learn more about the project and to either email comments or get the physical mailing address. Comments should be addressed to James Boyer, a biologist in the Corps’ regulatory branch. No decision will be made until the public comment period is over.
The Corps has already been receiving comments from a group of 11 individuals and organizations who applied for a special consulting party role because they have a special interest in the project. Many of them are interested in preserving the history of the site, where a British Revolutionary War fort once stood, and where Native Americans lived for thousands of years before that.
So far, SugarHouse archaeologists have found arrowheads and other Native American artifacts, but no physical evidence of the fort. The consulting parties want the Corps to require SugarHouse to do more searching for both.
The Corps is required by federal law to take steps to preserve historic artifacts, but it will also weigh other factors in its decision – such as environmental concerns.
The consulting parties have until Friday to turn in their comments. Most were named in December. But two Native American tribes who used to live in the area – The Delaware Nation, also known as the Lenape, and the Stockbridge – Munsee Band of Mohicans, were added last month.
Federal law requires the Corps to invite Native American tribes whose ancestors lived on the land to be consulting parties, but that did not happen in this case. Corps spokesman Khaalid Walls said an investigation into the matter is continuing. Walls also said that the Corps was determining whether any more tribes should be included, but Boyer said he was unaware that was happening. No one has asked for an extension to the March 7 consulting party comment period, Boyer said.
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