Fall City launches survey for totem pole replacement

After rehoming the Fall City totem pole last month, a committee of residents has moved on to the second stage of its plans to recreate the garden where the carving once stood.

Members of the Fall City Community Association, who voted last year to move the pole out of the garden, will now decide what goes in its place — at least temporarily.

A survey has been launched, asking residents for ideas of what should be put in the garden. Feedback will be taken until November. In December, FCCA members will narrow down their favored options for the garden, with an aim to have a replacement for the pole up sometime in 2024. The survey is available online at bit.ly/48mzwjB.

Angela Donaldson, one of the committee members, said they are going to take their time and provide plenty of opportunity for the community to provide input.

“We’re going to give people two months to submit ideas,” she said.

The iconic totem pole was removed from its historic spot, known as the Fall City Totem Garden, on Aug. 15. Two cranes lifted the 43-foot-tall pole onto a truck bed. It was taken to Baxter Barn, a nonprofit farm in town.

Cory Huskinson, owner of Baxter Barn, determined the tree used to carve the pole is over 240 years old. After a short restoration process, he said the pole should be standing again this month.

The search for the replacement to the pole comes as the Washington State Department of Transportation has outlined changes to the intersection at the Totem Garden.

Engineers with WSDOT have plans to improve safety near the garden by removing the Y-shaped intersection of State Route 202 and Southeast 42nd Place. Plans call for either a three-way stop or roundabout, both of which would remove 42nd Place.

Because those improvements are currently unfunded, and could possibly take a decade to come to fruition, committee members have proposed putting something mobile or a tree with a short lifespan in the garden until improvements are completed.

One new addition to the garden will be plaques to honor Grayson Stumpf, a Fall City Elementary student who died of brain cancer in 2021.

Grayson’s mom, Summer Stumpf, founded a charity, Live Gray’s Way, in her son’s honor and has since raised thousands of dollars for DIPG brain cancer research and supporting families. Last year, Stumpf led the Totem Garden holiday tree lighting, which doubled as a fundraiser for Live Gray’s Way.

Donaldson noted that the totem pole was originally dedicated to Julia Harshman, a town benefactor, because she embodied the community spirit – much like Stumpf does with her charity.

“[Sumpf] embodies our community spirit to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be humble, to be a good teammate, to give to others freely and to always find joy,” she said.