For the past couple of months, we've been getting notices in the mail about "historical survey" crews from some government (State of Missouri) sponsored research project being in the area, and asking for access to yards, etc. I didn't really think too much of this, as they claimed that they weren't going to be disturbing anything - as you'd normally expect if there were archeologists involved. Other than driving my dog crazy, I didn't see too much harm in a small crew walking around the neighborhood, and possibly even in my yard. I treated this with the same sense of urgency as the announcements that utility work would be done in the area.
Then a few weeks back, they sent out further information that they had potentially located some interesting finds, and would most likely need to do some more in-depth work. Again, I didn't give it much more than a passing thought, as so much was already going on in my life. Besides, if anything was going to directly impact us and our property, we'd be getting another letter, or visit, with the specifics. They couldn't do anything on my private property without my permission anyway, I reasoned. The last time something major happened, the Metropolitan Sewer District was redoing the sewer and storm water lines and converting the open storm-water ditch behind our house to an enclosed system. That was actually pretty good for us. PLUS when they dug it up the old sewer lines to put in the new ones, I found all kinds of neat bottles and artifacts from when our house had been built.
Then, early last week, I got the bombshell. Apparently, the research that was being conducted with the "surveys" was on something called the "Illini Confederation" or something like that. I looked it up. It turns out the "Illini Confederation" was a collection of organized Indian tribes that included a lot of area tribes, including the Kaskaskia Indians that everyone in St. Louis is familiar with, along with the Cahokia Indians. This group of tribes had settled all along both sides of the Mississippi River. Well, they found some items of interest as well as possible evidence of an important settlement and battle with Western Missouri Indians (possibly the Osage) that was in my area.
Well, fine, right?
Evidently, according to some new federal law that is in the works, this area may need to be restored to preserve the "historical significance" of the settlement and the historic battle. What that means, is that if our property turns out to be part of the historic site, we will have to move out and our house (which my grandparents had built for them) will likely be torn down in the "restoration" process.
Great. Just great. You can imagine that I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet.
There is still a LOT up in the air, including whether the federal law passes or not. Hopefully, all the current economic issues will keep them from taking too serious a look at this law, but I'm a nervous wreck. I found it very hard to blog last week, while all this was going through my head, and even missed a couple of days. I haven't even talked to my wife about it, yet, due to OTHER issues I've had to deal with including layoffs at work, planning a trip to China, busy weekends with event after event and rehearsals, etc, etc. Besides, it didn't seem worth mentioning until that last letter...and it is still hard to tell what kind of impact this will actually have on us.
We are always looking at houses in some of the historic districts deep in the city, which is a lot of fun, but I suspect it will be significantly less fun if we have to move out soon. I have NO idea how much time we'd get if this came to pass, but hopefully at the speed the government NORMALLY moves, it could be years. It seems like there would be some kind of eminent domain fight, too, doesn't it? Plus, the sewer district talked about re-doing the area behind our house for DECADES. When they finally moved on it, there were a series of public meetings showing plans and taking questions. I would imagine that with something like this, they'd do the same.
So, it's possible that this could take a very, very long time. My quandary is whether or not to try to move out now. If we move before the plans are official, we'd get very little for the house - at least once the news is more public. Who would buy our current property? We'd need the money from a sale of our current home to buy something else. At least they say it is a buyer's market, right now, but I would be seriously upset if I had to actually move out of this house. There are so many good memories here!
It's all just so unbelievable. I'll keep you posted on developments if and when they occur.