Oak Harbor begins dismantling of iconic windmill

Dismantling of the 40-year-old windmill in Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park began this week with the removal of the paddles.

City leaders hope to rebuild the windmill from the original plans in a different spot someday.

Nonetheless, some in the community are upset at seeing the iconic structure coming down.

Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said she was saddened by the news and thinks the city rushed into demolition.

“I had three different explanations from three different council members about why it happened and what the future plans are for its replacement,” she said.

“What is obvious is that this is something that has significant meaning to the community. I would hope that repairing it is the next step.”

The idea of moving the windmill has been in city plans for the park for years, but this summer city staff discovered the building was deteriorating.

A structural engineer advised the city to put fencing around it to protect the public from falling debris, according to City Engineer Joe Stowell. The fence was up for the Fourth of July holiday.

Members of the City Council discussed the options for the windmill during a workshop in September.

City staff said they could remove the windmill and construct it elsewhere, fix it, remove just the paddles until future park phases are started or just leave it alone.

The consensus among council members was that it made the most sense, from a public safety standpoint, to remove and rebuild the windmill.

The council made the decision official during its Oct. 17 meeting.

Council members reiterated concerns about safety, but made it clear they plan to rebuild the structure.

“I love the windmill and I think we all agree that it’s important to the city,” Councilwoman Erica Wasinger said. “It’s a great monument, a representation of our heritage and our history.”

Councilman Danny Paggao said material should be salvaged from the old windmill to build the new one. He noted current plans call for the windmill to be moved to a redesigned Beeksma Road area; he asked if that was still the plan.

“There’s all kinds of interesting places we could put the windmill,” Stowell said.

Wasinger said picking a new location should be a publicly discussed, thought-out process.

The windmill was built in the late 1970s with untreated wood. It was used as a concession stand and for storage over the years.

The council unanimously passed a resolution allowing staff to remove the windmill immediately. Stowell said the paddles would likely be removed right away and the rest later.

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