Despite having spent more than six months and $30,000 designing an investigation strategy, the city has scrapped an expert's proposal to study possible archeological sites on the Hellman Ranch property.
Though its own Archeological Advisory Committee recommended the proposal, the City Council rejected the plan and asked the committee, in effect, to start over.
Under the conditions of a 4-year-old law, the city is required to conduct archeological investigations on undeveloped properties within its boundaries. About 200 acres making up the Hellman Ranch property have been proposed for a golf course, homes and limited commercial use.
The proposal the council turned down Monday night advocated spending another $95,000 to begin digging on one of the sites, said Lee Whittenberg, director of development services. The proposal called for a "fairly labor-intensive" investigation, he said.
City Manager Keith Till said that, based on a peer review, the plan seemed too aggressive and "open ended."
"The city is committed to doing a study with scientific integrity," Till said. "If anything of significance is found, we're committed to doing what's right. This shouldn't be interpreted as [the] city not wanting to perform a legitimate study."
The rejected plan was Seal Beach's second attempt to examine the site.
As many as 13 significant sites may be on the property, according to the rejected plan filed by Environmental Research Archeologists.
Obviously frustrated with the length of time and amount of money spent on the discarded plan, Mayor Gwen Forsythe said a new archeologist should be hired to develop a workable investigation.
"I'll work with the archeological committee to find an archeologist to come in and get this done correctly, efficiently and within the bounds of the contract," Forsythe said.
The committee will meet Dec. 4 to begin seeking potential archeologists.