Thursday, December 10, 2015

Work at Archaeological Museum Raises Many Issues

I emailed Mr. Tracy Novak, Director of Parks and Recreation, Mrs.Tracey Jerome, Director of Museums and Cultural Affairs and Mr. Larry Nichols, Director of Planning. I simply asked whether anyone consulted with a hydrologist prior to beginning work at the Museum of Archaeology including the demolition of the gazebo and the bulldozing of the biocrust.

Response: It's been pretty quiet so far.

Now this: the city sent out a press release yesterday saying that the El Paso Museum of Archaeology and students from St. Mark's School are "working together to rehabilitate and repair the trail system around the museum as part of a community partnership." (Members of the archaeological community have been conveniently left out.) The students will work one Saturday of each month and "learn" prehistory while they are doing it.

As a result of severe weather and flooding the trails on the museum grounds have been closed for several years now. The Press Release states: "The city actively reached out to the community to find ways to improve the museum’s outdoor facilities." What it doesn't state is that members of the community reached out to city officials with some serious questions including why a hydrologist shouldn't be hired since the flood zone has changed and the design of the museum grounds is in conflict with the flood pattern.

In response to the city's press release, John Miller, a botanist and active Master Naturalist, asks:

"Can anyone point out to me a single thing which has been done towards the end of 'reopening the trails'?  Not a single thing accomplished to this point has contributed in any way towards any trail being reopened.

"The answer to re-opening the trails is not to be found in a volunteer workforce one Saturday a month; it will require ongoing attention from the City which has been sorely lacking to this point."

The problem, John, is that city officials believe that they are experts when they are anything but.

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