Despite a passionate plea from local history enthusiast Bill Kasch, the Longview City Council on Thursday voted to take down its deteriorating Lelooska Campfire Totem Pole and give it to the Port of Kalama to repair and install near the McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge along the river.
Kasch urged the council to wait and give the public time to weigh in on the decision. However, Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Wills said the pole needed to come down no matter what because it had rotted so much that it was no longer safe.
It could take longer than a year for the pole to be dried out, hollowed out and then stabilized, she said.
Kasch said he has spoken for years of the need to repair the totem pole, but “I can’t believe that you’re talking about taking it down. I can understand it needs help, but this is history. This is Longview.”
Chief Lelooska (Don Smith) carved the 36-foot totem pole in 1961 and gave it to Longview “in appreciation for community support of their organization,” according to council documents. It is currently located on Broadway.
The Port of Kalama would like to repair that totem pole and then use it to replace a 140-foot totem pole the port took down in 2018.
The Lelooska Foundation supports the Port of Kalama restoring Longview’s totem pole and then installing it near the others by McMenamins, according to the city.
Another audience member said Longview should send the totem pole to the Port of Kalama to be repaired and then returned to its location in Longview.
In order to do so, Wills said she would need funding from the council. Repairs are estimated to cost $40,000.
Councilwomen Christine Schott and Hillary Strobel voted against giving the totem pole to the port.
Also on Thursday, the council approved a $97,600 consultant agreement with PBS Engineering and Environmental for the first part of the design phase for a project to reconstruct 46th Avenue from Ocean Beach Highway to Olympia Way.
Councilman Steve Moon said he might be the most excited to see the repairs.
“I grew up on that street. I can imagine every pothole riding my bike up and down that street,” Moon said. “It’s exciting to see one of the worst streets finally getting some work done.”
The city in December received a nearly $3.1 million grant for the project, in addition to a previously awarded $700,000 federal grant.
In other business, the council approved:
- A $53,000 contract with Gibbs & Olson to study what would happen if a culvert on Indian Creek was removed.
- A $211,500 loan from the General Fund to Mint Valley Complex Fund to cover startup costs of the city taking over the golf course pro-shop, restaurant and driving range. The loan would be repaid with future revenues on or before Dec. 31, 2023.
- Purchase of property located at 726 Third Ave. from Public Utility District No. 1 for $12,300 last month as part of its Oregon Way-Industrial Way intersection improvements.
- Ordinance amendments allowing ground floor apartments in the General Commercial zone up to 60 feet in height.
- A $140,000 contract to JH Kelly remove existing hatches and installing new manways at the Mint Farm Water Treatment Plant.
- A $373,000 consultant agreement to BHC to update the city’s water system plan.