[Source: Cecilia Chan, Arizona Republic] -- Peoria may set up its own volunteer program to monitor archaeological sites after hitting an impasse with the state, apparently over liability insurance. The city last year signed an agreement to participate in the Site Steward Program, a project of the Arizona State Historical Preservation Office. The program trains and assigns volunteers to monitor historical areas to prevent vandalism. Senior Planner Phil Gardner said staff will propose at the June 20 City Council meeting that Peoria operate its own program. "It essentially will be one that will have a big component of training and processing of applications of site stewards and program monitoring," Gardner said. "We feel we need a program."
Gardner said that for now, neighborhood residents and police drive by sporadically to keep an eye on the 20-acre Hohokam site near Terramar Boulevard. City Attorney Steve Kemp said Peoria and the state have a number of legal issues over the intergovernmental agreement. "Regardless if those are resolved or not, the city has been working with the state and whether we work with the state under the program or do it ourselves, the city is committed to taking care of these sites," Kemp said. "The biggest difference would be that the city might be more responsible for training as compared to the state."
Kemp declined to disclose what the disagreements are between the city and state. "If this is the direction they want to go, it's up to them," said Mary Estes, the program's resource protection specialist. "This is the first time since 1988 when the program first started that we were not able to negotiate or get the entity participating in the program to provide insurance." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]