Archeologists are digging around De la Guerra Plaza in search of buried artifacts that may be damaged when the grassy space in front of Santa Barbara City Hall is renovated.
Project Manager Brad Hess says the digging began Monday, but it’s too early to tell how long the “Archaeological Phase 2 Study,” will last.
“We could be done in four days, working four to eight hours a day. But if we find something significant, we could be there up to four months,” said Mr. Hess.
A six-person team of archeologists from Applied Earthworks Inc. are looking for bones, remnants of red roof tiles and other relics of old Spanish colonial buildings, Mr. Hess said.
The project requires shovel test pits throughout the grass area, resulting in the temporary closure of the lawn, but the sidewalks remain open for pedestrian traffic.
“We’re taking a respectful, deliberate approach. And it’s important to note this is a preliminary study. We’re not starting a new development project yet,” said Mr. Hess.
If any significant artifacts are found, the city will conduct a more extensive study at the site of the find. Mr. Hess said only a small section of the lawn around the site of the study would remain fenced off.
In late March the Santa Barbara City Council approved an amended contract for $199,040 with RRM Design Group to provide architectural design services for the plaza project. The total project expenditure authority is $211,140.
The council also approved $300,000 of Measure C sales tax revenue to cover the cost of the consultant, preliminary environmental review and possible additional archaeological investigations.
They voted to appoint a member of the Santa Barbara Farmers Market community and a representative from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation to the De la Guerra Plaza revitalization committee.
Mr. Hess said once the studies are complete, the new plaza development could take around a year from design to the end of construction.
During a March 9 public workshop on the revitalization project, community members suggested installing permeable pavement throughout the plaza, with retractable bollards set up on both ends.
For updates on the project visit santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/pw/engineering/publicimprovements/dlgplaza.