The city of Oak Harbor will ask residents in early June what they think about the “Angel de la Creatividad,” a donated sculpture that has become a hot-button issue since it was proposed for Windjammer Park earlier this year.
City council members discussed the idea of a public survey at Tuesday night’s meeting along with other updates in the process to accept the 37-foot-gift of art.
Public Information Officer Sabrina Combs said Thursday that the city was still finalizing the survey and would launch it in the next few weeks on social media, the city website, flyers at city hall and signage in Windjammer Park. She did not have a confirmed date for the survey yet but said she was planning for early June.
City archaeologist Gideon Cauffman showed council members that twice the number of public comments submitted to the city came from people who are not residents of Oak Harbor. Combs said that the survey could include a question about residency after Councilmember Jeffrey Mack asked if it could be included.
Cauffman shared updates in funding, public input and possible next steps to the project to install the bright red sculpture that the estate of George Drake has offered as a donation to the city.
Drake’s estate had already pledged $30,000 in funding in March and gave an additional $25,000 in April to put towards the project. Drake was an avid supporter of public art throughout his life and had initially bought the “Angel” piece to give to the city of Bellingham.
While the northern city was determining whether to accept the gift, the executor of Drake’s estate, Al Zimmerman, decided to offer it to Oak Harbor instead.
The cost to the city would be $35,000 after the piece is installed.
Another concern council members had was the cost of labor and the city’s need to pay a prevailing wage. Staff found a state law, RCW 35.21.278, that allows some municipalities to be exempt from paying a prevailing wage, but it can only be done once a year.
Drake supported the sculpture’s placement in Windjammer Park so it could be viewed by many people and be close to the water. Yet the proposed location sparked a heated debate on social media and in public comments submitted during city council meetings.
City council members later suggested Catalina Park and Flintstone Park as alternative sites.
Cauffman said he reached out to Zimmerman about changing the location from Windjammer Park, to which Zimmerman responded that another waterfront location would be OK, but “it would be a ‘very big mistake’” to put it in a place where only locals would see it. Cauffman said city leaders would have the final say over the location of the sculpture after it agrees to accept the gift.