Path Planning Committee

The Sauna's Story Pole

During the 2013 and 2014 Fairs, a team of artists carved a story pole celebrating the Flamingo Clan at the Ritz Sauna. The Path Planning Committee and Sauna staff are developing plans to site and anchor the pole. The following documents and sketches have been developed by Peter Eberhardt, Kirk Shultz, and others.

On October 19, 2014, George Braddock and Peter Eberhardt, representing the Ritz Sauna, met with the Path Planning Committee to discuss the installation of the story pole. They presented a site plan that placed the pole in the same area where it had been carved.

This sketch is a cross-section of a proposed 12-foot-diameter concrete base to support the pole and provide lateral bracing.


The base pad would be decorated and show cardinal directions.


The committee expressed support for the story pole but had reservations about the size of the base and the means of lateral bracing. The area is an identified archaeological site, which poses problems for excavation. Vehicle traffic in the area can be congested before and after the Fair. In favor of the site, Dennis pointed out that it is the only area in the public space that is above the usual winter floods.

A subcommittee of PPC members and a representative of the Sauna met on November 15, 2014. Various alternatives to the 12-foot concrete pedestal were discussed. Kirk pointed out that it would have to be at least 18 inches below grade level to stay below frost depth. Tom, of the Archaeology Crew, argued that we would need an archaeological survey done by a disinterested professional if the base were large, which could cost thousands of dollars. If the preliminary survey finds unusual or unique artifacts, the State could require a more comprehensive and time-consuming exploration. Concerns were expressed about the carbon footprint and mercury pollution of cement production. The subcommittee agreed to recommend that the story pole be supported by a driven piling and that the concrete pedestal be reduced in diameter to a minimum. A non-structural ferrocement bench or artistic frieze could surround it.

On November 16, the full committee heard the subcommittee's report and voted to accept their recommendations. The committee voted to approve siting the story pole in the Black Oak site, where it lay as it was being carved.

After the meeting, Kirk took the Sauna's site plan and put his spin on it.

Discussions with Tim, a structural engineer and member of the Water Crew, led to further refinement. A pile driver big enough to emplace a long piling would be expensive to hire and difficult to get on site. Tim proposed drilling a 2-foot diameter hole 10 feet deep then filling it with concrete, casting in a steel sleeve large enough to hold the tall steel pipe that will support the carved story pole. He provided engineering calculations to support his design. Later, Kirk asked whether gravel could be used as the backfill instead of concrete.

On March 20, 2015, path planning and sauna folks met to review the project. Only one proposal was returned in response to the RFP for archaeological assessment, and its cost was deemed too high. We agreed to relocate the pole site to an area not identified as culturally sensitive--near the public entrance to the sauna and the ferro-cement mushroom in the plaza. George found a contractor who could drive a piling at this location for a reasonable price. OCF volunteers on the Archaeology crew could oversee the operation. To see the minutes of the meeting, click here.

To see a slide show of the Sauna and the public plaza, click here.

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