City of Boulder workers have disturbed a possible gravesite just outside of Valmont Cemetery.
The city has begun remediation of its contaminated Valmont Butte property and has hired an archeologist and tribal monitor to keep tabs on possible unearthing of unmarked graves during soil excavation.
Cmdr. Rick Brough of the Boulder County Sheriff ’s Office said that a deputy was dispatched to the cemetery April 25 on a report of a gravesite being disturbed. He confirmed that the circle of rocks surrounding the potential grave had been removed, but no excavation had been done. The deputy marked the area off with tape, according to Brough, and the matter falls under jurisdiction of the sheriff ’s office and possibly the coroner, since the city open space land is in unincorporated Boulder County.
He said that normally, when a grave is discovered, the sheriff ’s office and coroner are notified, but in this case, a concerned citizen affiliated with the cemetery — not the city or its consultants — alerted law enforcement.
The matter is under investigation, Brough said. “Everything’s on hold right now until we figure out what’s going on,” he explained.
City officials issued a written statement: “The city found a rock formation about a month ago on the Valmont Butte site. At that time, the contracted archeologist and the Native American monitor were notified to evaluate whether it was an artifact; this rock formation was not present on the site previously. Both experts verified that it was not an historic artifact and, in fact, was recently placed. The rock formation was removed by the archeologist and Native American monitor on Monday from the site. The Sheriff ’s Office received a report of a grave and is investigating to determine if it is a recent grave or a mock representation.”
Carol Affleck of the Valmont School District #4 Cemetery Association told Boulder Weekly she was upset by the discovery, especially since the association was given assurances that there would be a 50-foot buffer between remediation and the cemetery, and since the gravesite was not inside the city’s fence demarcating the remediation area. She added that just because the marker may have appeared relatively new doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been a recent upgrade to an old gravesite.
“While the city says the marker was small and might have been a pet, there are large burials in the cemetery with very small markers,” Affleck said. “They didn’t even call us to tell us they were doing it. … Do you think anybody else would do this next to Columbia Cemetery?”