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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Burditt Consultants, LLC on behalf of the City of Hutto, to conduct an intensive cultural resources inventory and assessment for the Houston Youth Soccer Association (HYSA) Texans at Riverwalk Parking Lot Project. The HYSA Texans at Riverwalk Park is an existing soccer field located northeast of the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 685 and Riverwalk Drive in Hutto, Williamson County, Texas. The City of Hutto is proposing to purchase the soccer park from its current owners. No improvements are proposed to the soccer field itself, though the city is proposing to construct a parking lot on an approximately 1.3-hectare (3.3-acre) lot located off the northern side of Riverwalk Drive adjacent to the eastern side of the soccer field. As such, for purposes of the cultural resources survey, the project area is assumed to consist of the proposed parking lot tract, which covers an area of approximately 1.3 hectares (3.3 acres).

The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by the City of Hutto, a political subdivision of the state of Texas, and would utilize grant funding provided by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). As both the city of Hutto and TPWD are political subdivisions of the state of Texas, the project would fall under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas (Natural Resources Code, Title 9, Chapter 191). At this time, no federal permits, licenses, or funds have been identified for the project. As the project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking, the project sponsor is required to provide the Texas Historical Commission (THC), which serves as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for the state of Texas, with an opportunity to review and comment on the project’s potential to adversely affect historic properties considered eligible for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL).

On May 7, 2019, Horizon archeologists Emily McCurdy and Rachel Naasz conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area. The survey was conducted under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, under Texas Antiquities Permit no. 8997. The purpose of the survey was to locate any significant cultural resources that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the park and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The project area is located on the upper terraces of Brushy Creek and exhibited signs of prior disturbances from grading, landscaping, periodic vegetation clear-cutting, and construction of a gravel driveway that provides access to the back side of the adjacent soccer field to the west. The field where the parking lot would be constructed appears to already be in use as an informal parking lot for games at the adjacent park. Vegetation within the southern portion of the project area consists of manicured grasses, though the northern portion of the project area adjacent to Brushy Creek was densely overgrown in tall grasses and weeds and a line of deciduous trees lining the creek bank. The largely level, high terrace landform drops off sharply toward the creek, and no lower terraces are evident in this area. Visibility of the modern ground surface was generally poor due to vegetative ground cover (<20%).

In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of two shovel tests per 0.4 hectare (1.0 acre) for project areas between 1.2 and 4.0 hectares (3.0 and 10.0 acres) in size. As such, a minimum of seven shovel tests would be required within the 1.3-hectare (3.3-acre) project area. Horizon excavated a total of 14 shovel tests during the survey, thereby exceeding the TSMASS for a project area of this size. Shovel testing typically revealed dense grayish-brown to gray silty loam overlying dense grayish-brown clay loam or black clay at depths ranging from 45.0 to 75.0 centimeters (17.7 to 29.5 inches) below surface. Sediments on the tract exhibited extensive signs of prior disturbance and compaction. It is Horizon’s opinion that sediments with the potential to contain subsurface archeological deposits were fully penetrated and that the project area was adequately assessed for cultural resources.

One aboriginal expedient tool, a utilized chert flake, was observed in one shovel test at a depth of 30.0 centimeters (11.8 inches) below surface. Additional delineation shovel tests were excavated surrounding this initial positive shovel test, though no more cultural resources were observed. This lithic flake tool has been classified as an isolated artifact occurrence and was not recorded as an archeological site. While the presence of an aboriginal lithic artifact is broadly indicative of prehistoric activity dating to an undermined prehistoric timeframe within the project area, the artifact also may have been redeposited from somewhere nearby during prior construction activities on the tract. No further investigations are warranted in connection with this single artifact. No artifacts were collected during the survey. Following completion of the project, project records will be permanently curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL).

Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good-faith effort to identify historic properties within the project area. No cultural resources were identified within the project area that meet the criteria for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) according to 13 TAC 26 or for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under 36 CFR 60.4. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected,” and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified immediately.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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