After much discussion with the Cedar Park City Council, developers Riverside Resources received approval to develop an archaeologically-sensitive area previously slated for a water park in 2008.
The planned development consists of approximately 77 acres to be developed into a business park, with the remaining approximately 20 acres to be utilized as a mixed-use development, including up to 1,500 apartment units.
The development, known as Indigo Ridge South, will be rezoned to allow for general business and mixed-use development along with protections for an area of archaeological importance. The previous zoning plans included a waterpark in 2008, but the park was never built on the nearly 97-acre property that stretches off East Whitestone Boulevard and backs up to Brushy Creek.
The development was approved with some guidelines, including the preservation of heritage trees on the property and an 8-foot masonry wall and 25-foot buffer yard on the eastern property line.
At a public hearing for the development on Sept. 27, two citizens shared their concerns about construction near Brushy Creek and its effect on the archaeological site.
Cedar Park is home to the Wilson-Leonard Brushy Creek Burial Site, which is where archaeologists have found ancient artifacts and the “Leanderthal Lady,” a prehistoric Paleo Indian woman whose remains were found in 1982. Carbon dating estimates that her remains were 10,000 to 13,000 years old when she was buried at the age of 18-24.
Within the state of Texas, there are only two burials that date to that time period that are as complete as this one was, and within North America, there are only a handful more.
“I am here today, not because I think that my pointing this out is going to halt development of Indigo Ridge South,” said Cedar Park resident and professional archaeologist Ardi Kalter.
“I am here entirely to tell a story on record, and in the hopes that maybe I can spark some interest on the part of the City Council or developer to find some way to help preserve part of or tell the story of a very special part of Cedar Park history.”
“If the entire site were to be wholly developed privately, then perhaps the most prudent and ethical thing for the developer to do here under public scrutiny, would be to have an archaeologist from an entity such as the Texas Historical Commission conduct a field study and do any necessary data recovery prior to any construction or disturbance of the ground in those areas deemed archaeologically sensitive,” said Cedar Park resident Kim Goodman. “Some things are worth fighting for… and compelling this developer to do the right thing is one of them. Who knows what may lie beneath that soil? Of course, we can only speculate, but given all that’s been discovered at the site near this property, there’s bound to be more noteworthy artifacts near Brushy Creek, and therefore, worth protecting and unearthing, if necessary, with great care.”
According to a Court of Appeals case between the Archaeological Conservancy and Wilson Land and Cattle Company, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 as part of an extensive scheme to connect private and public initiatives for preservation at the local and national levels. Congress expressly recognized that a common cultural heritage was important to preserve “in the face of ever-increasing extensions of urban centers, highways and residential, commercial and industrial developments.”
Both Kalter and Goodman recommended the developer have archaeological surveillance of the property during construction in case other artifacts are in the area.
Amanda Swor, the agent representing developers Riverside Resources, stated that the owners are unable develop in the area of concern, since it resides in the 100-year flood plain. If the city decides to build a road or trail through the creek area in the future, an archaeological survey would be required prior to construction. If human remains are discovered at any point in construction, on private or public land, they are protected by Texas law.