CATCHING UP WITH ... Fairview Park

Amy R. Spurgeon

Before Triangle Square, South Coast Plaza, The Yard House and Mother's

Market, Costa Mesa was home to American Indians.For many years the

secrets of these Native Americans were left untold beneath the cool, dark

soil throughout the area. But in 1926, news about the first documented

archeological remains discovered during plowing operations in Fairview

Park spread quickly.

The artifacts and human remains discovered in Fairview Park throughout

the beginning of the century would leave future decision-makers with the

question of how to ethically and financially preserve a nationally

registered archeologicalarea.

The city of Costa Mesa has been faced with the question of what to do

with the "Fairview Indian Village Site" since it purchased 208 acres of

the park from the county years ago.

Archeologists believe there are two main sites in Fairview Park. The main

site, in the center of the park, has been excavated. The second site,

east of the main site, has not been excavated.

Over the years, Fairview Park has been the subject of several major

planning efforts.

In 1993, the city paid The Keith Companies of Costa Mesa $83,000 to

investigate the main archeological site and recommend methods of

protection and preservation. The findings of the lengthy, highly detailed

document suggested complete soil-capping of the area prior to any plans

for active park use.

The 1993 report consisted of a four-part preservation and protection plan

for the site. The first part outlined requirements to maintain the

"archeological integrity of both the core and peripheral areas" of the

site. Suggestions regarding plant cover for the capping were made and

capping activities of the site were to be monitored by the city.

Artifacts and other discoveries made during excavations were to be

documented. And any future impacts from surrounding development would

have to follow certain requirements.

But since the city introduced the Fairview Park Master Plan last year,

recommendations made in the 1993 report have been modified. The city

changed Fairview Park's status from "active" to "passive" use in the

master plan because of public pressure.

The $9-million master plan calls for restrooms, picnic tables,

informational kiosks, vegetation and trails throughout the park, but no

building will take place on the sensitive sites. Because the main site

won't be used as an active park, soil-capping will no longer be needed.

The master plan states that "the core [archeological] area shall be

cordoned off with suitable fencing" to keep park visitors off the site.

However, City Parks Manager David Alkema said a more feasible solution to

delineate the area will be the use of thin wiring.

City enhancements of Fairview Park will be completed in 2000.

City Councilman Joe Erickson said he is very supportive of the

preservation of the archeological sites in Fairview Park.

"I am raising my family here, " Erickson said. "These villages were a

part of our history and should be preserved."

Costa Mesa resident Larry White said he was familiar with the park's

history and said the city should leave it in its natural state.

"This area should be left alone," White said. "There aren't many places

like this left anymore."

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