BLACK CREEK SITE: Backhoe
Dig Turns Up - Additional Artifacts
8/15/01 The Black Creek Site dig, begun Monday 8/13/01, immediately
yielded Native American artifacts for the delectation of experts present at the scene.
The backhoe dig, for which the town hired geologist Phil LaPorta of Warwick
NY, was scheduled to end yesterday but is now expected to end Thursday 8/16/01.
Meantime, archaeologists hired by the township confirmed the discovery of
newly unearthed artifacts, stemming back to thousands of years ago, which demonstrate that there was Native American cultural
activity on the site. The findings were further confirmed by Dr. Cara Blume, an archaeologist hired by the Lenni Lenape to
observe the excavation.
Thousands of artifacts found at the site over the years by archaeologist and
township resident Rick Patterson were on public display yesterday at Legends Hotel.
TC members await word as to whether or not their consultants, geologist Phil
La Porta and archaeologist Philip Perazio, have concluded that the land is "historically significant."
The TC expects a project report from its consultants by Aug. 28, a day before
the deadline for submissions to the historic register. The state's Historic Preservation Office is slated to meet on Sept.
12 to decide whether or not to place the Black Creek site, already deemed eligible by the state agency, on the register of
Some Vernon residents may recall that, for several years, a sampling of Black
Creek artifacts were among the exhibits in a permanent showcase on public display in the meeting hall of the Vernon Township
Scanning The Local News, 8/4/01
Maple Grange Fields
On Monday, Aug. 6, Judge Kenneth MacKenzie is expected to issue written orders in response to the town's latest motion,
which concerns hiring another consultant to probe the Maple Grange (Black Creek) artifacts site.
Previously, the town was set to hire another firm, CRCG, to conduct an archaeological study. The CRCG study was expected
to take place in advance of the state's scheduled September 12, 2001 meeting re: the property's historic site designation.
The site has already been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Troubled by the judge's ruling that plaintiffs and their representatives could observe the study, and troubled by the volume
of unfavorable letters received from professional colleagues and concerned members of the public, CRCG withdrew its proposal
last month and informed the twp. that the study was inappropriate and would not be a financially worthwhile undertaking for
The township attorney now seeks the judge's approval for the township to hire ( $44,722.00) a Warwick NY geological firm,
LaPorta & Associates, to do a geomorphological study of the site.
LaPorte proposes to excavate quantities of soil at the site, using heavy equipment (e.g. backhoe), in order to ascertain
the site's dimensions and to see whether or not it is true that the Black Creek site contains some of the most important historic
artifacts in the nation.
Preservationists say that town council members have disregarded, discredited or trivialized all previous findings of historic
artifacts on the property, and that the TC's chief concern has been to thwart the Black Creek site's nomination for national
BTW - Vernon may be the only town in the U.S. to oppose nomination of an historic site within its borders.
Maple Grange, Cont'd ... http://www.vernonweb.com/6vwn1.htm
7/8/01 Outcomes in Superior Court on Friday July 6 :
• Judge MacKenzie ruled that the twp. can go ahead with an archaeological study of the
artifacts site, work to be performed by the firm of their choice, and that all parties may observe the work but are not to
interfere with it.
• The twp.'s bid to have the court deny the intervention of the Lenni Lenape in
the matter was not successful.
Maple Grange Property
Superior Court outcomes this week:
The township is prohibited from conducting any activity which might interfere with or disturb the physical
integrity of the Black Creek Site, i.e. the subject 35 acres of the 183- acre park property, unless and until the NJ Historical
Review Bd determines that the site is not eligible for listing (Register of Historic Places), or unless and until the parties
present a mutually agreeable park design (excluding the disputed 35 acres) acceptable to the court, whichever comes sooner.
Meanwhile, TC reactions this week:
The TC decided to retain an archaeological consulting firm of its own choosing to dig "test pits" on the Black
Creek site, irrespective of the NJ Hist. Review Bd.'s pending resolution concerning the site's historic status.
If conducted before the state board is heard from (resolution expected in Sept.), it is not clear whether
such town-ordered "test digging" on the property will please the court.
See Also: 6/27 Bergen Record article N.J. Ancestral Site May Be Built Upon, a by Record staff writer Matthew Brown .
Maple Grange Legal Saga, Continued
week in Superior Court:
6/18/01 In seeking an end to the injunction which prevents
the township's preliminary construction work on fields at the Maple Grange property,
- the twp attorney argued that the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape do not have standing
in the matter and that the judge should have denied them the right to intervene in the proceedings. As a result, a court hearing
on this point is now scheduled for July 6.
- the twp attorney told the court that plaintiffs' allegation re: a June 6
meeting scheduled with NJ State Historic Preservation Office was intentionally fraudulent, that the meeting did not take place,
and that the judge had thus relied on fraudulent statements in deciding to issue the injunction last month.
- Relevant to the above June 6 mtg, plaintiffs entered into the court record
certain copies of correspondence they received from a representative of NJ State Historic Preservation Office. The state-authored
correspondence was to show the court that, in the interim following the May 23 injunction order , the scheduled June 6 HPO
mtg. had been cancelled by that state office for reasons which were apparently unrelated to the instant case.
At present the injunction is still in effect.
'Stop Work' Order to Twp. Not Lifted
6/6/01 Outcome of proceedings in Superior Court today re: the twp.'s construction plans for the
Maple Grange property:
- The injunction which called a halt to grading work at the site is still in effect.
- Judge MacKenzie ruled that the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey have standing to join the lawsuit.
- Judge MacKenzie approved the request for intervention by attorney Gregory Werkheiser of the Washington, D.C.
firm of Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe, LLP, representing the plaintiffs.
Supporters of Historic Site March To Muni Bldg
6/6/01 It has been estimated that over 100 people participated in
last evening's march to protest Vernon Twp.'s planned destruction of historic Native American grounds located at the twp.-owned
Maple Grange park property.
Township residents joined representatives of various Native American nations on the march from Rickey farm
and down Rt. 94 to Church Street, where protesters assembled peacefully at the Vernon Municipal Bldg. to hear speeches by
Native American spokesmen and local historical preservationists.
A press conference, scheduled by the TC for 5:00 p.m. yesterday, was cancelled when TC members learned that
the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape had joined the court action filed to prevent the twp.'s grading of the Black Creek artifacts site.
Vernon Mayor John Logan told reporters that the latest legal development was the work of the "same small group
of individuals" who oppose development of Mountain Creek.
Logan further commented to the effect that the TC had tried to compromise all along, but that the TC's compromises
had been rejected.
What about the VCA's design compromise for constructing ballfields in
a way which would spare the artifacts fields?
What about the Vernon Bd. of Ed.'s compromise offer of 50 acres of free property
suitable for ballfields?
Native Americans To March In Defense of Ancestral Grounds
6/4/01 Representatives of Native American nations, who have been foregathering
since Sunday (6/3/01) at the Rickey farm on Rt. 94 in central Vernon, said they will set out on a 2 mile march from the farm
to the Maple Grange property tomorrow at about 6:00 p.m. The march is to protest the desecration inherent in the town's plans
to build ballfields atop the 23 acres which have been shown to contain Native American artifacts and possibly human remains.
At a Town Council meeting last Thursday (5/31/01) the Vernon Civic Association presented a park design which
would spare the archaeological site, and further meetings relative to that proposal are reportedly imminent.
Meanwhile, Vernon Mayor John Logan has said that grading work on the subject 23 acres of the 180-acre property
might well continue unless a pending application for the site's national historic status is scratched. Town officials believe
that the site's registration as an Historic Place it will result in unwanted DEP etc. permitting requirements bearing upon
future development of the town-owned property.
The quid pro quo proposition was presented by the TC to the Vernon Civic Association, apparently in
the belief that they were the applicants.
Field archaeologist and Vernon resident Rick Patterson, who filed the application with the appropriate U.S.
agencies and who is not a member of the Vernon Civic Association, said he would absolutely not withdraw the bid for the site's
national historic designation.
Native Americans and local supporters of the site's preservation have said that, in their view, the TC-ordered
bulldozing of the site on May 23 was deliberately calculated to trash the site's archaeological integrity.
Gregory Werkheiser, an attorney with the firm of Piper,Marbury,Rudnick & Wolfe, represents the Nanticoke
Lenni Lenape nation, who intend to sue the twp. if the artifact land is not spared from the park-construction bulldozers.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, June 6, there will be a hearing in Superior Court concerning an extension of the
injunction ordered on May 21 by Judge MacKenzie, at which time the twp. is to explain how grading the fields will not cause
irreparable harm to the remains of what was, in the opinion of consulting archaeologists, a one-of-a-kind Native American
The May 23 injunction called a halt to township-ordered levelling of the site on that date. It was subsequently
found that twp. machinery had dug a 215- ft. long, 16-ft wide swath through the portion of the property which contains artifacts
spanning 10,000 years of Native American habitation.
News photographers who subsequently lensed the site were issued summonses by VTPD for being in a closed park.
The summonses are answerable on June 12 in Vernon's municipal court.
VCA's Park Designs Presented
Alternative Plan Would Build Ballfields, Preserve Native American Portion of
TC: Only If You Put A Stop To National Recognition of Historic Site
6/1/01 At last night's TC meeting, the Vernon Civic Association presented alternative designs
for the 180-acre town park.
About a month ago, reacting to dissent from local historians and Native American activists
re: building ballfields by destroying a well-known historical site, the TC agreed to entertain a compromise proposal from
At last night's meeting, VTPD officers stood watch as an often contentious audience packed the Municipal Bldg.
to hear the VCA's proposal.
The VCA's designs showed where ballfield construction could take place without disturbing the 23 acres containing
Native American artifacts. After hearing it, Deputy Mayor Janet Morrison reportedly said that she was impressed and that the
VCA plans were "a terrific and genuine effort to resolve this," but that if trust was not established between the factions
for & against the park project she would be conservative when considering her vote.
Vernon Mayor John Logan said that, provided the twp. engineer approves of the designs, implementation of the
VCA's design might be possible - but only if the application for the 23-acre site's listing as a nationally registered historic
site is snuffed.
Otherwise, the town will probably plow ahead with its original plan to construct ballfields on the artifact-loaded
portion of the property.
VCA president Chris Fuehrer said his organization had no authority to snuff an application it did not make.
Field archaeologist Rick Patterson is the township resident who filed an application with the U.S. Dept. of
the Interior, nominating the 23 acres for listing in the NJ Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic
Places. The Vernon site has been found to contain mass quantities of Native American artifacts (and possibly human remains)
spanning an estimated 10,000 years.
Patterson said he is "absolutely not" going to withdraw the site's nomination for national recognition.
On May 23, the court ordered the twp. to stop work on the controversial property. On June 6 the twp. is ordered
to show Superior Court Judge MacKenzie why the levelling of the 23-acre tract won't irreparably trash the archaeological evidence
of what may be one of the oldest Native American habitations ever discovered.
According to a 5/31 article in The Advertiser-News,Mayor John Logan said that the twp. had purposely
sent out the bulldozers to the artifacts fields in expectation of legal action. Logan also reiterated the TC's commitment
to "put ballfields on this site."
Native American Reps: TC Spoke With Forked Tongue
Representatives of Native American nations who were present at the 5/31 TC meeting made comments to the effect
that, in light of earlier TC meetings concerning the park plan, the TC's actions had been deceitful and treacherous. They
pointed out the township's deliberate bulldozing of the artifacts grounds before an alternative park design could be presented.
was also suggested that, if remains of Lenni Lenape inhabitants are disturbed, a federal human rights issue might be in prospect.
See also: Jacobus column, published May 21 of last year, The Black Creek Site
Vernon To The Working Press: Keep Away From The Scene
News fotogs/reporters, lensing controversial park
site, ticketed by VTPD
5/30/01 Advertiser-News reporter/fotog Pat Mindos and NJ Herald fotog Anna Murphy were issued
summonses today at the Artifacts/ballfield site for violating a township ordinance re: park closure.
Before Vernon police arrived to cite them for the aforementioned infraction, the reporters were at the property
photographing the condition of the artifacts fields (i.e. the aftermath of town-ordered bulldozing on May 23, halted the same
day by a court-ordered injunction).
Field archaeologist Rick Patterson, who accompanied the newsies to the controversial town-owned property,
was also issued a summons.
Your Tax Dollars At Work.
Town To Hear VCA Plan For Maple Grange Park At May 31
The Maple Grange Park is on the agenda for the TC's 6:00 p.m. work session
at the Municipal Bldg. on Thursday 5/31, and it is anticipated that the alternate proposal developed by the Vernon Civic Association
will be heard at the TC's regular 8:00 p.m session at the Municipal Bldg. that same night.
As these things are subject to change at times, interested members of the public might do well to call the
Town Clerk's office at the Municipal Bldg (764-4055) for the most timely schedule and agenda information.
Judge Orders Halt To Grading Of Artifacts Fields
Cites "Irreparable Harm" To Historic Site
5/23/01 At 12:45 p.m. today in NJ Superior Court at Morristown, Judge Kenneth McKenzie granted
Vernon resident Rick Patterson an injunction to stop township bulldozers from levelling the archaeological site on the Maple
Patterson, whose archaeological findings at the site are by now a matter of public notice, filed for the injunction
yesterday when it was learned that grading of the Native American artifacts site was underway.
In granting the emergency injunctive relief, Judge McKenzie noted that consideration of the town's equipment
rental cost (town's argument) was outweighed by the cost of "irreparable harm" which would result if construction were allowed
to continue at the historic site .
The TC was told to review the VCA plan as scheduled on May 31, at which time, said Judge McKenzie, it was
hoped that the TC would not "act with malice" in retaliation for the injunction, further adding that he hoped an agreement
could be reached and that the complaint would thereafter be a moot point.
Patterson has a week after May 31 to file additional
motions with the court for an extended injunction.
Our thanks to the VWeb Newsbeaks who contributed to the above report
See Also: (VScope) Stranger Than Fiction, eerily coincidental Artifacts stuff - for the delectation of VWebsters everywhere...
Grading of Maple Grange Fields Begins
5/22/01 Heavy machinery rolled out today on the town's
Maple Grange property, an event which began the TC-authorized "preparatory work" of grading the land for playing fields at
the future town park.
The land, or part of the land, undergoing "preparatory work" is on the 23 acres where Native American artifacts
have been found.
Grading of the field in question was authorized by the TC (3-2 vote, J.Kilby and F. Vince dissenting)earlier
this spring. The Vernon Civic Association was granted until June 1 to submit a compromise proposal which might spare the artifacts
It has been generally estimated that construction of the park will take about 15 years.
On May 14 it was the decision of the TC members (4-1, J. Kilby dissenting) to order up the initial "preparatory
work" for the fields without further delay.
Critics of the TC-ordered move said it pulled the rug out from under the VCA's soon-to-be-proposed compromise
regarding the artifacts site.
VWeb Newsbeaks Say:
of the artifacts grounds will provoke legal reactions - injunctions on the way? - stay tuned
Burial Grounds And Ballfields - Town Park Compromise?
School Property Offer Eyed - Meantime, TC Decides To Change Rec Field Layout
4/6/01 Development of the 180-acre, $1.1 million Maple Grange property purchased by the town
for recreational parkland, specifically the 23 acres identified as the site of ancient Native American artifacts, continues
to be a bone of contention between historic preservationists and ballfield construction advocates.
This week's events re: the park issue :
- On Tuesday, the Vernon school board offered Vernon township the use of 50 acres adjacent to Lounsberry Hollow
School, located in the center of town, for construction of town ballfields. In offering the compromise, Vschools Superintendent
Anthony Macerino was quoted as saying "We have said all along that we would work with anyone who would want to develop recreational
fields there. There is enough room for two schools to be built on the property." The TC's attorney, Joseph Ragno, said that
the town should explore all its options but that it would take some time to negotiate an agreement with the school board.
- At last night's meeting, the TC decided to eliminate a portion of the coveted 23 acre tract from development
plans for the town-owned parcel, a compromise to preserve part of the "area of concern" (artifact-dense grounds) for posterity.
Historic preservationists and representatives of Native American organizations found the compromise untenable, and argued
that the entire 23 acre section should be held safe from the bulldozers.
- Also at last night's meeting, the TC voted 3 - 2 to approve a resolution authorizing the twp. to do preliminary
site work on the town-owned parcel. Mayor John Logan said that such work might involve grading of the land by twp. employees.
Councilman Jim Kilby and Councilwoman Francine Vince cast the dissenting votes.
Meanwhile, at last night's meeting the TC introduced an ordinance to change the town park property from a
light industrial to a recreational zone.
On April 23 there will be a public hearing on the re-zoning ordinance.
Park Plan Meeting Well Attended!
Recreational Field Supporters,
Historical Site Supporters Vie For Consideration
3/27/01 An audience of 80 -100 people attended the TC work session to hear a presentation of conceptual
designs for the town park last night.
Architect Scott Taylor of Melillo& Bauer Associates presented the Municipal Bldg. assembly
with plans for picnic areas, football and baseball and soccer and lacrosse fileds, a hockey complex, a pool, community center,
bandshell or ampitheatre, historic/cultural exhibits, connecting trails, etc. etc. proposed for future construction on the
180 acre property purchased by the town last year.
It appears that all but 70 acres of the parcel are completely unsuitable for use as recreational
fields, and the 70 usable acres contain a significant trove of Indian and Early American artifacts.
At last night's meeting, residents strongly urging the construction of the long-awaited recreational
fields and facilities mingled with residents, archaeologists and historians urging the preservation of the long-documented,
state-registered archaeological site.
In short, both groups want dibs on roughly the same acreage.
The town's Historic Preservation Commission is expected to suggest how the artifact-dense portions
of the land should be treated, and TC discussion of the parkland design will resume on April 9 at the Municipal Bldg.
Vernon Town Park Designs To Make Their Public Debut On Monday
3/22/01 Anticipation mounts re: the architectural
designs for the town park, which is to be built (over the next 15 years) on the Maple Grange Rd. site purchased by the town
The designs are to be presented on March 26 at the TC work session meeting, 6:00 p.m., at the Vernon Municipal
Because a portion of the to-be-developed parkland is apparently chock-a-block with Native American artifacts,
the design presentation has revived the static between the TC and local history preservationists.