***UPDATE*** 1 bid received for Tacoma Totem Pole stabilization project

The City of Tacoma has received one bid for a project that would stabilize the 110-year-old historic Tacoma Totem Pole...

The City of Tacoma has received one bid for a project that would stabilize the 110-year-old historic Tacoma Totem Pole in Fireman’s Park in downtown Tacoma.

The pole, which stands 82-feet-six-inches tall, was carved by Alaskan Indians on Vashon Island and installed in Tacoma in 1903. According to Metro Parks Tacoma, it stood for decades near South 10th and A Streets, but was moved to Fireman’s Park, located at South 9th and A Streets, in 1953. The pole includes carved images of an eagle, killer whale, raven, grizzly bear, and wolf. It was designated an historic landmark in 1975 and is now part of the city’s collection of public art.

Last year, City of Tacoma engineers raised safety concerns over the structural integrity of the totem pole after two engineers with PCS Structural Solutions, a firm contracted by the City of Tacoma, found enough “soft wet deteriorated wood” and “significant deterioration” that the pole’s seismic stability has been compromised by at least 50 per cent. As a result, Tacoma’s public works director ordered the totem pole be stabilized immediately and the surrounding park area to be fenced off.

“This is a historic structure and the work is extremely sensitive,” wrote City of Tacoma staff in bid request documents prepared and released on Fri., Feb. 28. “Caution will be required to avoid damaging the pole while trying to install bracing and a steel pole behind the existing Totem Pole. The pole is compromised due to natural aging, wet conditions, and past infestations of carpenter ants. The pole was treated and there are currently no carpenter ants believed to be present. The pole has significant void spaces and wood rot in at least the first 15′ (ground up). Additional void space and wood rot may be present at higher elevations as well. The work preformed should be by an experienced crane operator with maximum protection provided.”

The $50,000 project was put out for bid on Feb. 28. The bid deadline expired on March 31. The single company that placed a bid was Maple Valley, Wash.-based MVG, LLC, a residential and commercial landscaping and construction firm, which provided a $63,100 quote to complete the project. The company’s bid is currently under review by City staff. According to MVG’s Web site, the company has worked on a variety of City of Tacoma projects, including a surface parking lot on the east side of Thea Foss Waterway, a culvert removal along McCormick Creek, demolition of the Bayview building, and a sewer project along Pacific Avenue.

***UPDATE*** The City of Tacoma put the project out for bid again on Weds., April 9, 2014. The deadline expires at 11 a.m. on Weds., April 16, 2014. More information is available online here.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the historic Tacoma Totem Pole, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.

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