ABERDEEN, Wash. – It may seem incongruous that an “old geezer” like Tori Kovach (a description provided by his friend Denny Jackson) would build a park commemorating Grays Harbor’s most famous native son, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
But even though he’d rather listen to Elvis, Kovach insists he and Cobain share common ground.
“Aspects of his life resonate with me because I was from a broken home,” Kovach said, “but he went on to become a rock star, and I went on to become a welder.”
Kovach undertook the project to carve the Aberdeen park out of a half-acre of overgrown blackberry brambles, piles of garbage and decades of neglect almost by accident six years ago, shortly after moving into the house next door.
At first, Kovach simply wanted to make the place less of an eyesore. But he learned that the Young Street Bridge is where Cobain used to retreat as a teen, even living there for periods. Nirvana fans even make pilgrimages to the bridge.
“There was a couple from Italy,” Kovach said. “There are bands that hold concerts down here.”
Kovach said he’s heard the song “Something In The Way,” which is quoted on a new sign at the park, and while he said no one can be sure Cobain really lived under the bridge, Cobain did grow up a few blocks away.
Amazed by the graffiti underneath the bridge, in languages from all over the world, Kovach was inspired to install a sign on a truss under the bridge to commemorate the spot several years ago.
But creating a park quickly took on more significance for Kovach. For years, he has been telling local governments, in no uncertain terms, to change.
“I asked myself, ‘How’s that working for you?’ ” Kovach said. “I decided I couldn’t rescue the city, but I could do something about this piece of it.”
The park’s land belongs to the city of Aberdeen, but Kovach has promised to maintain the park once the land has been graded. He has been out there with his mower before, and he’ll do it again. He’s even talking about planting some ferns or flowers to make the park more attractive and to stabilize the soil.
Kovach also wants to install a floating dock for canoeists and kayakers. He said he is applying for a permit to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and hopes local boaters will help raise the money to make it a reality.
Kovach looked out over the quiet piece of the Wishkah River, which winds quietly through old pilings and beneath grassy banks.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve seen it go from boom to bust,” Kovach mused. “I hope to see its resurgence, but I doubt I’ll live long enough.”