Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) today called on the Christie administration to halt bid proceedings to fill in the historically significant Petty’s Run archeological dig site at the Statehouse complex until various measures have been considered.

“This has to be one of the most fool-hardy decisions of this administration. Clearly their mind was made up from the get go. They have refused to consider other alternatives to filling in the site and they have proceeded to move full steam ahead with the bidding process while the legislature is in the middle of considering legislation to save the project,” said Watson Coleman.

Petty’s Run contains significantly intact traces of the site’s industrial uses, including the Trenton Steel Works, which was one of only five steel furnaces that existed in the Colonies, and the only one whose archaeological remains have been located and excavated.

Petty’s Run was intended to be a focal point of the overall Capitol State Park plan, which has been put on hold due to budget constraints. However, the state has already spent roughly $4 million on the Petty’s Run project, which is estimated to cost a total of $10 million.

On May 27, 2011, the Christie administration issued a bid for the “Stabilization & Closure of the Petty’s Run Excavation” at a fixed price of $410,434. Currently, legislation is finishing winding its way through the legislature (A-3699/S-2667) that would prohibit the burial of Petty’s Run and require the state to continue efforts to protect, preserve and stabilize the findings at the site.

“It would be a much better use of taxpayer money to apply this $400,000 to preserve the site, rather than to undo the work that has already taken place and bury Petty’s Run indefinitely. Filling in this site would not only mean throwing away a significant amount of money, but it would literally equate to burying history. If the administration continues to move forward with the bidding process without waiting for the legislature to weigh in, or considering any other options, it will prove that the Governor has no consideration for Trenton’s historical significance in our country’s most formative years,” added Watson Coleman.