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Color me Oak Harbor

"Another group has come with a couple of ideas for revitalizing downtown Oak Harbor, but this time the proposals are a little less expensive and ambitious.The Chamber of Commerce's new Downtown Committee members want to dress up downtown buildings with a mural and color coordination scheme.We wanted to do something that would have a big impact downtown in a short amount of time, said Gloria Carothers, the owner of the downtown Jewelry Gallery and a member of the committee. She said the projects are meant to tie in with larger projects envisioned for downtown, from the dock to a new library to a performing arts center.Carothers said the group has already commissioned a couple of local artists to create a miniature mural as a model of what can be done.Also, committee member Jodi Masters researched color coordination ideas in other cities and towns to create a pallet of pastels with matching dark colors for trims. She is working with the manager of the Pioneer Way YMCA to color-coordinate new awnings and a possible new paint job. Carothers unveiled the mini-mural at Harbor Pride's Blueprint For Change event earlier this month and got a warm response from both local people and the out-of-town architects. The mural idea fit in well with the the event, which focused largely on the downtown and how the community can revitalize the area plagued by empty storefronts.The idea behind the mural, which is entitled Celebrating Our Heritage, is to show off the diverse history of Oak Harbor, Carothers says, and create something a lot of people can identify with.The mural depicts a group of people who are supposed to represent the city's heritage. Each person is holding up a quilt decorated with images that illustrate who they are. There's a sea caption, a Native American woman, an Irishman, a Dutch woman, a farmer, a Scandinavian woman and a Navy man.In the background there's the Deception Pass bridge, a boat, a Garry oak and a windmill.The committee had a tough time finding mural artists on the island, Carothers said, but eventually came across Carole Amberry - the artist who paints the window murals on local car dealerships - and Karen Jolie. She says they spent well over a hundred hours researching the details - from the airplane to the Dutch woman's costume - and painting the model boards.Carothers said the committee members want the artists to paint the full-sized mural on the side of the Deli By the Bay building since it's the beginning of the old town section of Pioneer Way. In proceeding years, variations on the main mural - perhaps focusing on the Dutch or Navy themes - could be painted on other buildings.But like other downtown projects, money is the main obstacle. Murals are not cheap, Carothers said, and can cost up to $10,000. The Downtown Committee applied for funding from the lodging tax committee, which recommends distribution of the 2 percent tax on hotel visits, but no decisions have been made.On the other hand, Carothers said the proposal to color-coordinate paint jobs on downtown buildings shouldn't be a big cost. The group isn't asking all the building owners to go out and paint the buildings. Since each of the buildings will eventually need a new paint job, the committee member hope to help the owners chose the colors when the time comes.Over time, Pioneer Way could get an aesthetically-pleasing, color-coordinated look. "

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