Some of the mysteries of an old Susquehannock Indian settlement in Lower Windsor Township could soon be uncovered, with county officials on Wednesday voting to apply for a grant that would include archeological surveys of Native Lands Park.
The unfinished 187-acre property can only be accessed by trail heads and includes the last known village of the Susquehannocks, who lived along the Susquehanna River and were believed to have been driven into Maryland by the Seneca around 1680, according to the park's waystop guide.
County Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve the submission of a $125,000 grant application from the U.S. National Park Service.
County Treasurer Barb Bair said the money would fund the design of public access facilities, with a future grant possibly funding construction of the facilities.
The only areas to be included in this round of archeological surveys is the area where the county plans a parking lot, restroom, and driveway, said Tammy Klunk, executive director of York County's Department of Parks & Recreation.
"We have to make sure there's nothing underneath those areas," she said. "We do not believe that we will find anything, mainly because it's bedrock...and an unlikely place to build or put in a garden."
The work that could be done through the grant would be another step toward discovering and documenting the history of the site, she said.
Future archeological surveys would include an area where researchers have located what is believed to be a longhouse or stockade, she said.
"We expect to find structures there," she said.
No time schedule has been set for that work, which would likely include ground penetrating radar, she said.
County's cost: The county is expected to fund its $100,000 match for the grant through its $369,000 share of the impact fee from natural gas drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale.
The money is paid to the state by drillers and must be used for certain purposes, with park-related work being one acceptable use.
County Administrator and Chief Clerk Chuck Noll said about $67,000 remains in the fund.
President Commissioner Steve Chronister said the $100,000 is a small price to be able to start using the park, which is part of a larger recreation area in the township.
In December 2011, the county approved spending $98,875 for a master site plan for the Susquehanna Heritage Park, including Native Lands, Highpoint Scenic Vista and Recreation Area, Klines Run Park, Wilton Meadows Nature Preserve, Upper Leibhart Archaeological Preserve, and Zimmerman Center for Heritage.
Public comment on proposed uses of the park were part of that study.
Klunk said the that information, which will show what kinds of amenities the public wants on each site, is still being compiled and could be finished in about six weeks.