Mariemont temporarily bans access to trail over Native American burial mound

MARIEMONT, Ohio -- The mayor of Mariemont says bicyclists riding up a trail to a Native American burial mound have damaged the mound.

Archaeologist and University of Cincinnati professor Ken Tankersley is leading the charge with Village of Mariemont Mayor Dan Policastro to close the trail to cyclists.

"It's very important archaelogically, and it's very sacred," Tankersley said. "This is considered sacred ground."

It's a burial ground that contains the ancestors of Angonkian-speaking people such as the Shawnee, the Deleware and the Miami.

The bike trail has actually exposed some human remains. Tankersley said he found a human bone "worn from bicyclists who were literally riding over the bike trail and riding human remains."

"You can imagine, if the people who constructed this trail, if someone put a trail over their mother's grave, how they would feel," Tankersley said.

Policastro said he worries Mariemont could lose its place on the National Register of Historic Places.

"I would think property values would go down," he said.

And, the mayor said he worries about safety. He wants to see bicyclists limited to a dry creek bed area below, away from walkers.

"If you've got bikes and you've got people walking, it just doesn't mix," he said.

Doug McClintock with the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance agreed bikes don't belong on the mounds, but said the proposal to ban bikes from so much of Dogwood Park goes too far. And, he said hikers and cyclers can coexist.

"We're the biggest advocate for natural surface trails," he said. "We believe they belong in every single community and we feel they're a great aspect of recreation. They bring hikers and cyclists and bird watchers and all sorts of people together."

McClintock said the group believes they can work with the village to realign the trail to go away from sensitive areas and still preserve the natural outdoor recreational opportunity.

Councilmembers voted Monday night to suspend all user access for the immediate future. Neither walking nor cycling on the trail will be allowed, and the council will conduct a study to identify other areas where human movement could be disturbing historic sites.

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