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Discovery Of Possible Artifact Halts Hawaii Park Development

Catherine Cruz

A Hawaii park development project has been delayed following the discovery of a possible artifact on the grounds, officials said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell halted the project at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Tuesday while officials wait for further information from the Oahu Island Burial Council and the State Historic Preservation Division.

Work is being temporarily halted in "an abundance of caution" as experts try to determine what the object is and whether its discovery over the weekend means other items could be in the area, Caldwell said.

The burial council is scheduled to hear a presentation by the city and discuss the object at its Oct. 9 meeting before making a recommendation to the state.

The discovery of an artifact of historical value could hold up a $1.43 million development at the Oahu park, commonly known as Sherwood Forest. The planned construction of a multipurpose field, parking lot and playground has sparked demonstrations and a lawsuit to block the development.

Caldwell met with a city archaeologist and a University of Hawaii expert who he said determined the object is "a piece of basalt of a lava dike that was chipped from somewhere else and probably brought there."

They have not determined whether it is significant enough to end the park project, Caldwell said.

"Finding an artifact doesn't mean you cannot proceed," he said, casting doubt on assumptions the object is manmade or an ancient tool.

"We'll wait to see what they have to say and move forward at that time," Caldwell said. "We're going to follow all the protocols and make sure that everything is done properly."

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