Cultural Resources Protection
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Cultural Resources Protection a Pro-active Approach George R. Frantz, AICP Presented to American Planning Association Chicago, IL, November 23, 2010. Image Source: The Issue.

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Cultural Resources ProtectionaPro-active Approach George R. Frantz, AICPPresented to American Planning AssociationChicago, IL, November 23, 2010

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The Issue

Native American historical and cultural sites have fared poorly at the hand of the design professions.

“Shovel and shut-up” approach unfortunately still exists in too many places.

The Issue

  • Archaeological sites unknown quantity;

  • Federal & state laws limited effectiveness;

  • Generally only apply where public $$$ involved;

  • New York: State Environmental Quality Review – public & private projects.

    Cartoon: Dolores Hayden, Grand Domestic Revolution. 1980

The Issue

Tangible Resources vs.

Intangible Resources

Project Genesis

  • Desire to locate and protect the site of Coreorgonel, an Iroquoian town of +/- 2,000 destroyed by American forces in Revolutionary War.

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Project Genesis

  • Desire to avoid the conflict that many times erupts when developers’ plans are pitted against protection of cultural resources.

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The Challenge

  • Accommodating growth and development.


  • Protecting an important cultural resource and sensitive Native American site, and doing so in a unique, cost effective and non-adversarial manner.

    Image Source: Microsoft Bing

Project Objectives

  • Short-circuit potential controversy using pre-emptive cultural resources survey to identify areas of archaeological importance in the valley.

  • Develop a model for collaboration between academic institutions, local governments and landowners to identify & protect cultural resources.

Project Objectives

  • Permit the design and approval of two future residential developments in the area while protecting critical historic and cultural resources.

  • Create a constituency within the community for the protection of cultural resources.


  • Phase I-a literature search & report;

  • Phase I-b shovel test pits on 125 acres;


  • Parkland dedications ID’ed in collaboration with developers;

  • Development phasing determined

  • Phase II excavations on 5 features identified in Phase I-b.


  • A catalyst for a multi-year research, design and public education initiative.

  • A place redefined: the Inlet Valley from highway corridor to an area rich in history.

“We’re Not Dead Yet”

  • A rediscovery of a rich native American heritage in the occupation of the Inlet valley by the Tutelo/Saponi peoples.

  • A new public park that includes a space set aside for contemplation and commemoration of Native American heritage.


  • Department of City & Regional Planning, Department of Landscape Architecture, Cornell University.

  • Town of Ithaca Planning Department.

  • Developers : Eddydale Homes & E. Tomlinson, III

  • Cayuga Nation of Indians

  • Tutelo and Saponi nations

Lessons Learned

  • Communities can and should pro-actively embark on cultural resources surveys wherever the historic record shows the potential presence of archaeological site.

Lessons Learned

  • Planners can and should work with landowners and the community to determine presence of archaeological sites before design begins.


Lessons Learned

  • The Native American community can and should be brought to the table early on as an active partner and valuable informant.

Lessons Learned

  • Colleges and universities have an important role:

    • critical expertise in archaeology;

    • resources to conduct excavations.

Lessons Learned

  • A proactive, cooperative approach to identifying cultural resources is both practical and cost effective.

  • Controversy over historic and cultural resources can be short-circuited.

  • The development review and approval process does not have to be delayed.

Lessons Learned

  • The authority municipalities possess in many states to require park and open space dedications of developers can be a tool for protecting cultural resources.

Present & Future

  • A new constituency for the protection of the Coreorgonel townsite is established.

Present & Future

  • Town of Ithaca in September 1999 named one of two park sites acquired as a result of the IVAS “Tutelo Park.”

  • Dedicated the park to preserving the heritage of the native American presence in the Inlet Valley.

Present & Future

  • In September 2006 the commemoration was expanded into the “Homecoming Festival of Native American Culture,” a one-day event featuring music, dance, food, presentations and exhibits at Tutelo Park.


March 2010

  • Local micro-brewery acquires site to build new brewery/restaurant/beer garden;

  • Presents sketch plan to Town of Ithaca Planning Board;

  • Proposed development outside IVAS test area.


Under NY State Environmental Quality Review Act, Town of Ithaca must consider potential impacts on historic and cultural resources prior to approving project.


  • Developer hires archaeologist to complete Phase I-a, Phase I-b studies;

  • Development site is “clean;”

  • Report incorporated in Town’s environmental review


George R. Frantz, AICP

Department of City & Regional Planning

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

[email protected]

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