Christopher Donta, a Senior Principal Investigator of Gray and Pape Inc was cross-examined regarding Gray & Pape’s analysis and studies regarding the cultural and archeological survey performed on the proposed project’s location. Donta believes that “the Project will not cause unacceptable harm to any significant cultural or historic properties.”
Phase I Archaeological Identification Survey for the Proposed Invenergy, LLC, Clear River Energy Center, Burrillville, Providence County, Rhode IslandANDPhase II Archaeological Site Examination of the Iron Mine Brook Dune Site (RI 2757)
Six sites were identified as being of interest. One the areas examined, the Iron Mine Brook Dunes site, had “deposits similar to many Native American sites in New England, according to Donta, and was possibly in “its original context and had the potential to aid in understanding Native American settlement in this region,” Donta recommended avoiding any construction there.
Invenergy countered that avoiding this location was not possible, so Donta conducted a “phase 2 survey” to assess the area’s eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. Based on Donta’s survey and what he determined to be a “lack of diversity of artifacts and the absence of cultural features,” Donta determined that the site was ineligible for the National Register.
Burrillville attorney Michael McElroy asked if simply not qualifying to be included in the National Register of Historic Places mean the site is unimportant.
“Just because a site is not of significance doesn’t mean it has no information at all,” said Donta, adding that after the phase 2 survey was conducted, Invenergy decided the site does not have to be used after all, and will not be impacted.
That said, Donta would not issue a recommendation that a condition of the license granted to Invenergy by the EFSB contain a prohibition against using the site. “I would not recommend that the site be avoided if [Invenergy] did need that space in the end. That was the purpose of our site examination and we did determine that it was not significant.”
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