Public hearings with two town boards are scheduled for the new Minuteman High School project starting this week. Meanwhile, a recent archeological dig at the site of the new building in Lincoln did not turn up any historically significant artifacts.
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing for site plan review on Tuesday, Feb. 28 (time TBA). The board will also conduct a preliminary site plan review on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. The Conservation Commission will hold its first public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. All meetings are in the Town Office Building.
Because Minuteman High School is an educational institution, it is largely exempt from local zoning rules for the building itself. However, the two boards will have a say on matters such as parking, landscaping, visual screening and wetlands.
Minuteman documents on file for the Planning Board can be found here, and those for the Conservation Commission are here. Given the size and complexity of the project, the town plans to hire a consultant to assist with the reviews.
Pending permitting by the town, the Minuteman district hopes to break ground this spring and open the new school to students in the fall of 2019.
Minuteman commissioned a four-member crew from the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. (PAL) of Pawtucket, R.I., to survey the future construction site for artifacts, but researchers came up empty, finding just one shotgun shell and one piece of broken glass, both of recent vintage.
The survey was undertaken because the site’s proximity to Battle Road, wetlands and water sources meant it might contain items from pre-European Native Americans or colonial-era residents. The work was not required by a government agency but was ordered by Minuteman Superintendent Edward Bouquillon to ease any concerns about the site’s potential historical significance and to ease his own mind about building a school there.
“This area is rich in Revolutionary War history. I had no idea what we might find out there, but I’m glad we did this. It was the right thing to do,” he said. The archeological survey cost the district $15,000, a small fraction of the school project’s $144.9 million total cost.
The PAL team spent more than 150 hours digging 90 cube-shaped shovel test pits, each about feet on a side, and then used a screen to sift the soil for items for interest.
“No artifacts were identified as part of the survey, which is a little surprising, but I think it has a lot to do with the shallow ledge that covers most of the area,” said senior archeologist Holly Herbster. “Our testing coverage was thorough and we targeted areas that were most likely for pre-contact as well as historic sites, so it appears this area just wasn’t utilized as neighboring areas were.”
Even though no artifacts were found, the dig offered an educational benefit for Minuteman students. Social studies teacher Tracey Sierra brought her sophomore classes out to the site to see the direct connection between science and history, and students they also learned about career pathways they didn’t know existed.
Sometimes PAL has the chance to explore a significant archeological find. The firm recently helped document the discovery of a 19th-century schooner buried deep in the mudflats in the Seaport district in South Boston. The shipwreck was found during excavation on a construction project.