Who owns historic cemeteries?

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) CBJ Lands and Resources Manager Greg Chaney said there is a reason nobody knows who owns the Douglas cemeteries, the documents are too thick and too much to read.

    Chaney said when these cemeteries were built there was little law and courts.  There was no clear path for municipalities to own property. 

    The Alaska Constitution clearly states the CBJ can not maintain private property.  They must first figure out who owns the property, then see if the actual owners want to give the title over to the CBJ.

    There are seven cemeteries in question.  They are the Douglas City Cemetery, Eagles Cemetery, Servian Cemetery, the Catholic Cemetery that also includes some Russian Orthodox burials, the Ross Estate Cemetery, the North Godfrey Cemetery, and South Godfrey Cemetery.  At the time, Douglas was the largest city in Alaska.  A lot of people lived here and thus a lot of people died and were buried.

    Over the years the cemeteries were filled and set aside.  The issue came up only when the City of Douglas was asked to step in and provide maintenance.  Complicating the matter is the fire of 1937 that may have destroyed some cemetery records.

    Through the years in public records, it shows that council time after time noted the cemeteries were privately owned.

    Chaney researched the issue and found in one memo that the City was contacted by the O.T. Corp, the owner of the Douglas City Cemetery interested in donating the four upland cemeteries.

    The Land Division plans to get titles on each parcel, take them to the Law Department, work on legal transfers and deeds, and figure out who owned all the cemeteries.  The goal is to have the Assembly end up with accepting the maintenance of these historic cemeteries.

    In other CBJ news...

    The public works committee recommended the CBJ Assembly move forward with the Valley Transit Center.  They agreed to recommend various budget transfers to pay for the construction.  The budget amount is close to $1.98 million.  The proposed site is north of Mendenhall Mall Road. 

    The committee also recommended the full Assembly consider a total of $1.14 million to renovate the pharmacy at Bartlett Regional Hospital.  It will help meet federal requirements for pharmacy drugs for the oncology unit.


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