By Diane Emeott
Evidence of 20 more coffins or graves has been found during the month of August on the Old Burial Ground property in Deerfield, according to Archaeologist Bob Carr of Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (AHC) on Monday.
“We didn’t find any additional human remains because we were not digging deep enough to uncover human remains.
“When we would see evidence of graves or coffins, we would stop and record the site, then move on to another location,” he explained.
“I think there were 20 coffin or grave stains – in addition to the other two – for a total of 22,” he said.
On June 5, skull fragments and coffin hardware were discovered while testing the 63rd anomaly. On July 15, leg bone fragments were also found at the site.
Carr said it will take at least a couple of weeks to compile a report that will be sent to State about the findings.
He said he expects the report to be sent by mid October.
FROM COMMISSION MTG.
Attorney Dwayne Dickerson, on behalf of property owner Rob Kassab, announced Sept. 9 that archaeological digging was being suspended on 3.1 acres of a 5.85-gross-acre parcel of land — slated for development by D.R. Horton into 69 high quality, two-story town homes to be called Village Park.
The owner voluntarily and temporarily suspended the archaeological survey on Sept. 10 in order to work with the City of Deerfield Beach to explore options for the State to purchase the land and turn it back over to the City — which could than provide an opportunity for creation of a park or memorial, according to Todd Templin of Boardroom P.R. on Tuesday.
At the commission meeting, District 2 City Commissioner Gloria Battle requested an item to be added to the agenda regarding what she called the “Old Minority Cemetery” at SE 2 Avenue and SE 5 Court.
“Most of you know I was very much against building on that property, and I still am against it,” Battle said.
Development can still occur outside the 3.1 acres where the Old Burial Ground was located.
“Development will move forward on the remaining 2.7 acres of Mr. Kassab’s land,” said Templin.
“If the State agrees to buy the 3 acres, it’s not going to be developed,” said Mayor Jean Robb. “Could they also give it to the city, as well as the funds to maintain it?” she asked.
“We are doing this with the support of the city, the county and even members of the State Legislature,” said Dickerson.
“What if the State doesn’t see things our way? What then?” asked District 3 City Commissioner Richard Rosenzweig.
“Mr.Kassab is still the owner of the property. He has the right to develop it, if he chooses. However, we think this is an opportunity to make everyone as happy as possible,” said Dickerson.
Vice Mayor Bill Ganz said, “In my opinion, Mr. Kassab should donate this property to the city without seeking any money for it. “You shouldn’t develop it. I don’t want any taxpayer dollars going to recompense what was a bad business decision,” he said.
“Two faulty studies have come forward that have turned out to be ridiculous,” Ganz added — referring to a January 1986 study by Florida Atlantic University before Kassab purchased the property in March 1986, and a 2004-05 study by Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (AHC) for Deerfield Beach Historical Society.
AHC has also been conducting the 2015 archaeological survey, using the latest Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Since May 19, Advanced Archaeology, an independent firm hired by the city to oversee the project, has been monitoring the work of AHC.
Battle said, “I totally am in support of what the Vice Mayor said, but I am of a differing opinion. You all have been very forthright with the community,” she said to Dickerson. “I request that my fellow commissioners vote with me to direct the City Manager to explore funding to purchase the property.”
“We may not get this funding [funding from the State],” she added.
“Shouldn’t we wait for a decision from State before taking any action?” asked the Mayor.
“I feel they have a very valid case for going to State to give the city the money to purchase it and for maintenance,” she added later.
City Attorney Andy Maurodis reminded the commission, “Basically, we authorized a site plan for that property, which basically takes away our right to restrict development on it.”