Nirvana Park Committee moves forward with cemetery plan

Motorized traffic will be blocked from the area during winter months

In the 1920s Henry Feldman turned Nirvana Park into a magical fantasyland using burls from the interior. Photo courtesy City of Cordova
In the 1920s Henry Feldman turned Nirvana Park into a magical fantasyland using burls from the interior. Photo courtesy City of Cordova

The Nirvana Park Committee met this fall to review the findings from the additional ground penetrating radar survey by Applied Archaeology International and to review the summer season with the initial restrictions for the area in place.

After a GPR survey in November 2016 along Eyak Spit and Eyak Lake, the team from AAI was invited to return to the site and carry out an additional investigation. The purpose was to deploy a new GPR unit owned and operated by BE Surveys and specialist Stuart Beckett. This unit provides more accuracy and higher resolution data than the unit used in 2016. This second survey resulted in a more detailed survey of the Eyak Burial Grounds in the Eyak Spit area and identified 41 additional burial sites.

The committee also discussed how the summer season went with the restrictions of no live fires or motorized traffic on the spit. While there were few issues overall, with the advent of snowfall, the committee discussed reiterating the importance of no vehicle traffic on the Eyak Burial Grounds. In preparation for the winter season, and with the discovery of additional burial sites, the committee decided to make sure motorized access would be blocked.

Everyone on the committee and the Parks and Rec Department agreed while the large sign in place was not visually attractive, it did accomplish the goal of notification of the changes to this heritage area. In the future, it will be replaced by a smaller sign along with interpretative signage sharing the history of the area. Given the increased traffic, Parks and Rec Department plans to continue work to expand the beach area there.

The committee consisting of representatives from the city of Cordova, Native Village of Eyak, the Parks and Rec Department, the Historical Society and Eyak Ancestors unanimously agreed to continue work on re-establishing the area as a special heritage area that consists of past and active burial grounds. As a next step, the committee set up a special email for comments, concerns, questions and ideas for the Nirvana Park Cemetery and Eyak Burial Grounds Heritage Area. Send comments to cordovanirvanapark@gmail.com

The next committee meeting will be scheduled sometime in December at which time the group will review comments sent to the email address above. Updates will continue via the E-News, City website and The Cordova Times. Notice of meetings will be in the same places and an email distribution list will be created based on emails sent to the Nirvana Park email account.