A group of community members have come together to start a fundraising campaign to rebuild the windmill that once sat in Windjammer Park.
Current City Councilmember Eric Marshall, former Councilmember Bill Larsen and Rotary Club member Brian Jones set up an information tent at Blue Fox Drive-In on Friday to take advantage of the large crowd that came to view the premiere of the new “Jurassic Park” movie.
“This is something the previous city council had promised to bring back when they tore down the old one and we’re just trying to help fulfill that promise,” said Marshall, who has lived in Oak Harbor since 1980. “Rather than using public money, we’re trying to fund it privately.”
The old windmill, a plywood building built in the 1970s, was torn down in 2017 because it had not been maintained and had become a hazard due to rot and possible falling debris.
As proposed, the new windmill will have two stories with a balcony, a fully-functioning kitchen, a bathroom and a meeting space. The Dutch structure will be able to be rented out for events. The funds from rentals would be used to cover maintenance costs.
The new windmill is planned to go in a slightly different spot in the park and have a different orientation than the former structure, which faced the ocean with the city in the background. The new one will have its back to the water and face the city.
“You’ll be able to see much more of the front of it from Highway 20 and Pioneer Way,” Marshall said.
The group already began receiving donations that evening. Their fundraising goal is $700,000.
“So far the feedback has been extraordinary,” Marshall said. “People have been very supportive. We’re really surprised by the number of people that have come tonight from out of town to watch the movie that are very supportive of the project as well.”
Councilmember Jim Woessner announced the beginning of fundraising at last Tuesday’s city council meeting after over a dozen citizens voiced their opinions on the controversial “Angel de la Creatividad” sculpture, also set to be installed at Windjammer Park.
“The sculpture has nothing to do with the windmill,” Marshall said. “When this windmill was taken down, there was a promise made by council. In fact, Bill Larsen was a council member at the time and made a promise to the public that it would get rebuilt. So Bill is really working to fulfill that promise.”
Brian Jones explained how the Oak Harbor Rotary Club, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is involved.
“By the Rotary driving the project, building the project, we’re able to do it and then build it, then donate it to the city of Oak Harbor and its citizens,” Jones said.
The other people involved are Woessner, Ryan Wallin of P&L General contractors and Aaron Syring, owner of Island Drug. Jones said they are community leaders who decided to work together to do something nice for the city.
“What we love about it is it’s going to be a rentable space so that people can make memories at it,” he said. “It’s not a storage shed.”
Jones recalled the old windmill’s original purpose fondly.
“When we were kids growing up here,” he said, “it was a snack shack and you could rent kayaks and things like that for the lagoon, but it became a storage shed for a lawn mower for the city.”
The goal is to have the new windmill built by next summer and cut the ribbon on the Fourth of July.
“We won’t know until the end of this summer where we are with fundraising,” Jones said. “(That) will determine if we can do it but momentum is really good right now.”
Both Marshall and Jones thanked Blue Fox for letting them set up an information tent, which is only the beginning of this fundraising effort.
“We’ll be all around the city for the next four or five months really pushing this thing hard,” Jones said.
Donations can be made at ohwindmill.com.