The Lake Mills area has been home to diverse groups of people over time even before the Aztalan people lived here. An archeological study completed at Sandy Beach recently unearthed artifacts dating back to AD 500, 500 years earlier than the Aztalan people indicating a group identified as Middle Woodland lived near the water.
The Lake Mills City Council approved the second phase of the archeological project Tuesday night at its meeting relating to the Sandy Beach redevelopment project. The phase two study at the park will cost the city $32,000.
“We will have to do that if we are going to continue the project,” said Steve Wilke, city manager. “In the long run I think we could have some interesting features down there,” he said of the ancient history.
The city did a survey of the entire beach area.
“There was enough archeological evaluation material they recommended going to a phase two,” he said.
The funds will be pulled out of the unreserved fund balance until the end of the year.
Robert Watson and Richard Edwards of Commonwealth Heritage Group of Milwaukee told the council about some of the artifacts found on the site including pottery shards, a prismatic blade, bone implements and arrowheads.
“You really don’t know what you are dealing with until you dig it up,” said Watson. “We found in the area of the park where the boat launch is scheduled to be near the sand volleyball courts, we identified materials indicative of what we call the Middle Woodland stage.”
Middle Woodland dates from 200 BC to 500 AD.
“These deposits were down deep between 50 and 60 centimeters below the surface,” he said. “There isn’t a lot known about the Middle Woodland stage in this area and these deposits seem to only be Middle Woodland.”
The area seems like it has been undisturbed and never plowed the archeologists said.
“The ice house and the other features that have been in the park before have not had an impact on it.”
The phase two dig at the park will help to contribute to the understanding of the past and integrity which are two requirements for the National Register of Historic Preservation Act. Phase two will be to apply the standards of eligibility for the register to the Sandy Beach site.
“If it does meet the standards you have to start looking at mitigating effects,” he said. “This may not be the end, but it’s the first step in determining what you are doing.”
In another part of the park archeologists found additional materials not related to the Middle Woodland occupation of the land. The second site appeared to be a Late Woodland campsite.
The archeologists also found the mound at Sandy Beach to most likely not have been man made. Right now, the mound is still considered a burial site.
Wilke said at one time the former landowner of the site is reported to have removed human remains from the site and sent them to the Milwaukee Public Museum.
The team of archeologists will work with geoexploration experts to build on the findings from phase one.
“Archaeology is time and people,” Watson said of the cost of the project. “It’s labor intensive to be digging down by hand.”
Also relating to the Sandy Beach project were comments to the council during public comment about the portion of the redevelopment plan that calls for the extension of South Ferry Drive through the trailer park.
Doug Mulay spoke at the meeting saying the road has been filled with terrible traffic all summer with Main Street being closed.
“When people are zooming by with their cars I’ve seen parents have to hold their kids back,” he said. “There’s no advantage to it. The only people who will use it are going to Sandy Beach.
Others asked the extension to be limited to foot and bicycle traffic.
“You don’t have to make a highway on Ferry Drive,” he said.
There was some misunderstanding at the meeting about the phasing of the Sandy Beach redevelopment project. Some citizens were under the impression that if the boat launch move is approved the whole park project will go forward. Wilke emphasized that’s not the case.
“The boat launch has no connection to the rest of the seven phases,” Wilke said.
“It’s not the intent of this council to do this in one fell swoop,” said Diann Fritsch, council president.
In other business the council:
— Approved the Brookstone system improvements bid recommendation for $142,990 to Pro Electric Inc.
— Tabled a decision on the Faville Park walkway.
— Approved the community center request for a fundraiser for the Tyranena Ladies Club Fashion Show.