Short Circuiting Controversy in Cultural Resource Protection in Ithaca, New York
by Sherene Baugher, PhD and George R. Frantz, ASLA

Collaboration between planners and university archaeologists to proactively protect archaeological resources can minimize prospects for conflict and controversy in growing communities.

Beginning in 1993 George R. Frantz, ASLA, AICP, of the Town of Ithaca Planning Department, and Professor Sherene Baugher, PhD, of Cornell University, collaborated on a preemptive cultural resources survey on over 100 acres of land prior to the design phase of two pending subdivisions.

 The objectives of the Inlet Valley Archaeological Survey were to minimize the potential for controversy over cultural resources and facilitate municipal approval of the proposed development, while providing Cornell University students a site where they could gain hands-on experience in field archaeology.

The Survey succeeded in identifying potentially sensitive sites that the developers' engineers could then design around and reserve as the required public park dedications to the Town of Ithaca.  Continued excavations through 1996 have documented a half dozen archaeological features and preserved valuable artifacts from the site while providing valuable field experience to archaeology students at Cornell University.

Tutelo Park - Site Plan
Rendering of proposed site plan for Tutelo Park prepared by student John Barney, Jr. during Spring 1999 graduate design studio talk by Prof. Marvin Adleman, Dept. of Landscape Architecture at Cornell University. Image courtesy John C. Barney, Jr.

More importantly, the project was a catalyst for renewed interest in Native American heritage in the Inlet Valley that has resulted in development of a municipal park dedicated to celebrating that heritage, and an annual festival of Native American heritage at the park.

Tutelo Earth Day
Local youth prepare to demonstrate how bake bread using a traditional Native American method during an Earth Day celebration at Tutelo Park in 2007. Image courtesy George Frantz.

Read more about this project.

Sherene Baugher, PhD, is Associate Director of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Inter-college and Interdisciplinary Archaeology Program at Cornell University. She can be reached at 

George R. Frantz, ASLA, is currently Principle of George R. Frantz & Associates in Ithaca, NY. He can be reached at 

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