(Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times)
                                Oak Harbor Parks Director Hank Nydam points out cracks in the trunk of the Garry oak that used to stand at the post office.

(Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times) Oak Harbor Parks Director Hank Nydam points out cracks in the trunk of the Garry oak that used to stand at the post office.

From oak to giant acorns

Up to $30,000 requested from city to carve tree into art

Oak Harbor is moving forward with plans for the wood from the 329-year-old Garry oak tree that once stood next to the post office.

A live-slab table, a podium, countertops and a tree-ring timeline slab are among the ideas.

This week, City Administrator Blaine Oborn asked for the city council’s blessing to spend up to $30,000 to have an artist carve two or three of the largest sections of the tree into giant-sized acorns.

The city’s Arts Commission took the acorns on as a project, Oborn said, and will review proposals, making recommendations to the council.

The acorn idea came from an ad hoc committee that was formed to develop ideas for using the wood after the landmark tree was chainsawed by the city in 2014, following a secret meeting. While it was done for safety reasons, the removal of the tree upset many in the community.

Pieces of the wood have been earmarked for the different projects.

“For some reason it just never moved forward,” Oborn said, “but we’re trying to pick this up and move forward.”

Oborn said the acorn sculptures would be displayed outside but the site hasn’t been chosen yet.

Parks Director Hank Nydam said a sign in oak-filled Smith Park was one of a handful of things that have been made from wood of the post office tree to date. Some wood has been milled for potential projects.

It’s good-looking wood but challenging to work with, he said. The acorns will be treated with a penetrating stain that will have to be reapplied on a regular basis.

A slice of the tree to show the rings and the furniture are meant for the new interpretive center that’s part of the sewage treatment plant, Oborn said.

The city will put out a request for proposals for prospective acorn carvers.

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