Locals hope Crown Heights excavation unearths Revolutionary War artifacts
Thursday, June 10th 2010, 4:00 AM
A revolutionary war is brewing in Crown Heights.
Neighborhood activists hope an archaeological excavation will unearth Revolutionary War artifacts beneath Clove Road, a tiny, crumbling street.
The dig will be launched this summer - despite a study that was lukewarm on whether the street was an American outpost from the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn.
"This is not your average street," said Community Board 9 District Manager Pearl Miles. "There's more than meets the eye."
But not everybody is happy about the impending dig - mostly nearby residents who say it will be dangerous and disruptive.
"How is it going to help me?" said Dvorah Eidelman, 41, a mother of eight who lives on Malbone St., which intersects with Clove Road. "It's going to be a mess. My children are young and they're going to run around. It could be dangerous."
The 2002 report by the RBA Group, a private engineering and architectural firm hired by the city, found that 800 American soldiers guarded the road - then known as the Bedford Pass - in August 1776 before retreating from advancing British forces.
Even though evidence was thin that important archeological objects would be found, the report concluded the dig should go forward because it "would enhance our understanding of American defenses in Brooklyn" and "provide a glimpse" of how camp life was for the troops.
The city Transportation Department wanted to reconstruct Clove Road - a one-block stretch of cobblestones, cracked pavement and potholes - but halted its plans to wait to see what the 2002 study would find.
Neighbors have complained that the street has deteriorated during the wait for a dig that might not yield anything important.
"The street looks like a Third World country," said Solomon Neubort, 42, a lawyer on Malbone St. "You may be imposing a great burden on residents of the streets without much of a payback."
Advocates said the road, which was also part of a 19th century route between Brooklyn's jail and mental hospital, needs recognition - even if archaeologists don't uncover anything.
"Somewhere near here was a battle or event that is not being properly commemorated," said Michael Cetera, 64, a Crown Heights architect who has called for turning Clove Road into a park or pedestrian path. "We're trying to reconstruct history."
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