NYC officials ponder what to do with the colonial-era wall discovered recently

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First came the excitement over the discovery of a Colonial-era fortification in Battery Park. Now it's decision time: What should the New York City do with this massive relic?

City officials have conceded that the thick stone wall, which sits about nine feet below street level and perpendicular to the path of a planned subway tunnel, is too historically significant to cart off to a landfill. Archaeologists believe it was built at least 240 years ago and was either part of the battery wall that protected European settlements at the south end of Manhattan or a piece of one of the forts that replaced Fort Amsterdam.

But coming up with a plan for preserving the wall, discovered last month, presents a bigger puzzle. City officials must answer a string of questions: How much of the wall should be removed from the ground? How and where would it be displayed? Where would it be stored in the meantime? And who is going to pay for all of this?

Adrian Benepe, the city's parks commissioner, said that he hoped some of those questions would be answered at a meeting scheduled for today at the offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

He said that one of the biggest obstacles was cleared on Thursday when the authority agreed to hire conservation experts to draft a plan for extracting the wall from the subway trench.

But those planners will have to act fast. Joan C. Berkowitz, a partner in Jablonski Berkowitz Conservation Inc., said the transportation authority has asked her firm to take two weeks to document the current state of the wall in enough detail so that it can be taken apart and reconstructed. Still, she said it would probably require three.

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