In response to the “Point of View” in last week’s issue by Dr. Joseph Diamond, about stone formations on the Lewis Hollow Corp (LHC) property, the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) would like to clarify the following:
Dr. Diamond submitted to Woodstock Times, and the paper printed, excerpts from personal correspondence by longtime WLC board member and land planning professional Jim Bogner, without contacting Jim or WLC first. It is unfortunate — and in our opinion professionally unethical — that this was done without our knowledge. Along with certain other assertions and insinuations, Dr. Diamond implies in these excerpts that WLC has a particular position on the origins of the stone formations on the LHC property, which we simply do not.
We initially reached out to Dr. Diamond last summer regarding the LHC property because he is a known expert on the anthropological history of the region. This was done solely as part of the kind of research and due diligence that WLC undertakes whenever a property comes up as a possible candidate for protection. Jim, who also serves as chair of WLC’s Professional Standards and Practices Committee, undertook this research with all the sensitivity, care and professionalism that it required, and the integrity with which he approaches all his work for WLC.
Because the origins of these stone cairns are unknown but have garnered widespread local interest, we considered this an important factor to investigate and consider. Since the potential determination that they could be Native American would have had strong stewardship implications for WLC, our initial research outreach necessarily focused on this particular possibility.
Because Dr. Diamond immediately communicated to Jim that he was not open to any consideration of this possibility (he firmly believed the formations were from a nearby Irish settlement, without having visited the site with us), WLC decided to seek a second opinion on this, as indeed recommended by Dr. Diamond himself.
As a result, we reached out to the Public Archeology Facility at SUNY Binghamton. Their Director, Nina Versaggi (also chair of the New York Archeological Council’s Professional Survey and Report Standards Committee), along with Asst. Director Chris Holman, visited the Lewis Hollow site with us last August and they were very impressed by what they saw. They have studied similar sites in Central New York which they have determined could be of Native American origin. They told WLC this site could possibly be Native American as there were similarities to what they had previously seen. They submitted a proposal to WLC to conduct an in-depth study of the site. Because the Lewis Hollow Corp property is now listed for sale at a significantly higher price than WLC as a land trust can legally offer, WLC is no longer in active negotiations for its purchase. As a result, we have not further pursued the proposal from the Public Archeology Facility at SUNY Binghamton.
To clarify: Jim never told Dr. Diamond that his research and conclusions were inaccurate, and he never stated that WLC was looking into this to help with fundraising for the organization. Jim was always polite and respectful of Dr. Diamond’s research, carefully following all our professional guidelines and ethical standards. In the end, WLC simply felt we should get a second opinion, which Dr. Diamond appeared open to, and which we did.
In fact, Jim responded in a characteristically collegial, respectful, point-by-point manner to an email from Dr. Diamond which in tone was condescending, to say the least. Dr. Diamond did not answer Jim’s response, nor did he note in his letter eight months later to Woodstock Times either the fact or substance of Jim’s polite, professional letter. We find it unfortunate and unprofessional that Dr. Diamond would cherry-pick statements and use them out of context, impugning Jim’s reputation in the process. That Woodstock Times determined to print them without first seeking comment or clarification from Jim or WLC is regretful.
As we wrote in the Feedback section on March 29, the Lewis Hollow property has many natural features, as well as historical attributes yet to be fully understood, that make it worthy of protection. We appreciate that the land has been cared for so well for many decades, and that it now is stimulating such interest in protecting our archeological and historical heritage. We would hope that any further coverage of this could happen in a more civil, ethical and respectful manner.++
Kevin Smith, Chair of the Board, WLC
Patty Goodwin, President of the Board, WLC
John Winter, Executive Director, WLC
Editor’s note — We agree that printing Dr. Diamond’s correspondence with the Woodstock Land Conservancy was wrong. We should have asked Dr. Diamond for his opinion, as stated directly to our readers in a separate piece, and stayed out of any back and forth between the parties, which only tended to cloud the Dr.’s points.
Also, while we’re trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, in Dr. Diamond’s preamble he expressed surprise that Sherry White was quoted in the original article by Violet Snow, with a viewpoint. However, Ms. White was not quoted in the article at all. This falls on the editor, me, who should have caught it and asked Dr. Diamond to correct it.