McGregor approves proposal for intensive archeological investigation

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Sally Schneider took the oath of office to become McGregor’s newest city council member on May 18. Schneider was appointed to fill the position vacated by Deborah Scott, who has moved away from the community. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


The McGregor city council, at its May 18 meeting, approved a proposal for an intensive archeological investigation on Main Street. Officials are hopeful the move will help satisfy requirements from the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), whose reluctance to OK the city’s Main Street reconstruction project has delayed work for one year.


The two-year, $10.5 million project, which was originally slated to start this spring, will include construction of a new Front Street lift station and corresponding force main, followed by water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utility upgrades and full reconstruction of Main Street. Work, which was spurred by an Iowa Department of Natural Resources administrative order, will address excessive inflow and infiltration to McGregor’s over-100-year-old sanitary sewer system.


This “fact-finding” survey, as mayor Lyle Troester called it, will include three tasks. The first, a geoarcheological investigation, will consist of the extraction of 10 mechanical soil cores at intervals along Main Street, at each block and lift station site. 


According to the proposal submitted by Tallgrass Archeology, the work will be completed by a subcontractor, Impact 7G of Johnston, to examine and assess the landform sediment assemblages in the area. The cores will be extracted at greater depth than the proposed maximum impact zone for the project in order to fully assess landform development and to make recommendations concerning the potential for archeological deposits in an intact buried context.


The plan is to place cores as much as possible in parking areas along the sides of Main Street in order to minimize traffic disruption and maximize personnel safety.


“The 10 holes are going to be one foot by one foot,” explained Troester. “Those holes will be re-filled and patched back up with blacktop.”


This step is projected to take three days and could begin as early as late May/early June.


The second task, the archeological investigation by Tallgrass Archeology, will consist of 80 bucket auger tests along Main Street, spaced roughly 40 to 50 feet apart along the project area. The number of tests could potentially decrease, however, based on the previous geoarcheological investigation.


This step will take 13 days to complete and also include the saw cutting of one foot by one foot pavement squares. Subsurface testing is expected to focus on project sections where new storm sewer and water lines will be placed in locations where no utilities currently exist. This gives the best potential to be sections of undisturbed landforms with intact archeological sites, the proposal said.


“One is for depth and one is for something closer to the surface,” explained Troester of the two steps.


The final task, additional reconnaissance and architectural/historical intensive survey and evaluation, will be conducted by Tallgrass. Results of the study will be summarized in a project report that will be submitted to SHPO and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for review within 60 days of the completion of field work. The report will not have an impact on the lift station project, which the city hopes can be completed in late summer/early fall, but rather Main Street.


In all, the intensive archeological investigation will cost $91,859, which the city said will be covered by the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan for the project.


When asked if this investigation will fulfill what SHPO needs, city administrator Lynette McManus responded, “At this point. They’ll probably have more for during the construction.”


Due to the length of time it will take to conduct the investigation, and for report submittal and review, Troester said there was no chance work on the first phase of the Main Street reconstruction project could have been salvaged this year.


“There wouldn’t have been time to get the project done by November, and that’s the state requirement,” he said.


In other topics on the May 18 agenda:

•The council appointed Sally Schneider as its newest member. Schneider fills the position of Deborah Scott, who has moved away from the community.

•The council approved policies and forms of application for permits for mobile food vendors and urban chickens. Mobile food units are allowed as long as vendors obtain a permit from the city and follow location requirements and performance standards. Urban chickens are also allowed, at a maximum of six hens only. Roosters are not permitted. Those wishing to have chickens must apply for a permit and properly enclose the birds.

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