Uncertain future for totem pole

Community meeting with Parks and Rec held to discuss options for Campbell Square totem pole

John Rajca stands near the totem pole at Campbell Square prior to the city removing it.

By Lindsey Nolen

Since the city Parks and Recreation Department removed the totem pole in the heart of Campbell Square on Tuesday, April 4, the Friends of Campbell Square have been brainstorming ways to re-incorporate the artistic structure back into the park’s landscape.

President of the Friends of Campbell Square, John Rajca, brought up the future of the totem pole and the possibility of having it put back up somewhere within the park, preferably moving it to the center, at the friends’ meeting on Tuesday, April 18.

In response, Patty-Pat Kozlowski, director of park stewardship for the city parks department, suggested the friends get in contact with DeChristopher Brothers Monuments & Memorials — which worked with the FOCS on the Vietnam stone — to ask for the price of an obelisk, a stone pillar. She recommended informing the company that FOCS wishes to obtain an obelisk to put the totem pole on top of.

“It’s really just the base, and what they’ll do is they’ll put a steel rod up and they’ll drill a hole in the totem pole, put it down and set it,” Kozlowski said. “I think we should try to keep it.”

George Minnich added it might be worthwhile to instead insert the base of the totem pole directly into the ground, just like a utility company would insert a regular pole, keeping the base a few feet deep in the ground, packing tightly with rocks around it and covering it in soil.

“If they put it in just like they do a pole, they’ll put it in the ground up to a certain point, like maybe like four or five feet deep,” Minnich explained. “You’re only borrowing time. We took a dead tree, not a pole to make this.”

Kozlowski noted that because everything deemed dead has been cut off the totem pole, it now stands shorter, which could lead to the possibility of some of the artwork being buried beneath the ground as well. Her ultimate concern remains the base of the pole will continue to rot.

Minnich said he believes putting the totem pole in concrete, as would be the case with an obelisk, will only make it rot faster due to the water that would be retained.

Kozlowski said the parks department will discuss the options with arborist Richard Sunday, who decided it had to be removed. Then, it will explore the options FOCS proposed. ••

For details on getting involved with the park, visit the Friends of Campbell Square Facebook page.