Oxford moving off hill? Landowner says he is providing dirt for Sam's Club being built at Oxford Exchange
by Dan Whisenhunt
Staff Writer
Aug 20, 2009 | 8235 views |  40 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The stone Indian mound is seen behind Target in the Oxford Exchange. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star
The stone Indian mound is seen behind Target in the Oxford Exchange. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star
OXFORD — The city may be backing off its decision to destroy a mysterious and controversial stone mound near a major retail development.

The city originally planned to destroy the hill underneath it and use it as fill dirt for a Sam's Club. A landowner said Wednesday his property will be the source for the dirt.

In an unrelated move, the owners of the hill, the city's Commercial Development Authority met Wednesday to deal with a sinkhole found on the Sam's site. Members authorized putting $350,000 into an escrow account to reimburse Sam's for the cost of fixing the sinkhole.

The mound, which archaeologists and preservation officials say could contain funeral artifacts or remains, is on a hill behind the Oxford Exchange. It's estimated American Indians constructed it at least 1,000 years ago.

The Alabama Historical Commission said it's the largest known mound of its kind in the state. Its possible destruction angered American Indian groups and attracted attention from around the world.

Landowner Charlie Williams confirmed to The Star Wednesday that Oxford-based Taylor Corp. is negotiating with him for dirt for the Sam's site. The company has the contract to do site prep work for Sam's Club. He said the dirt would come from his property on McIntosh Road in Oxford. He said he has not received money for the dirt but expects to eventually.

Attempts to reach Taylor Corp. were unsuccessful. City Finance Director Alton Craft said he was "pretty sure" the city was trucking in the dirt, but he didn't know from where. City Project Manager Fred Denney also said the dirt is being trucked in, but he also didn't know the source. Mayor Leon Smith said he did not know anything about the matter.

CDA members declined to comment.

Denney declined to say whether the city has any other plans for the hill. In a prior interview he said the city had planned to develop it for a commercial purpose.
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