Public-private windmill partnership proposed

Oak Harbor officials expressed interest in moving forward with rebuilding the windmill.

Oak Harbor officials expressed interest in moving forward with a possible public-private partnership to rebuild the large windmill-shaped structure that used to sit in Windjammer Park.

Details, however, are preliminary and vague.

During a council workshop Wednesday, Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns brought up rebuilding the windmill, which was razed in 2017 over concerns it was deteriorating. He noted that the council members said the windmill would be rebuilt when they decided to tear it down.

Severns said he’s heard “quite a bit of interest” among citizens and businesses in replacing the Dutch-inspired structure.

Likewise, Councilmember Jim Woessner said he was approached about a month ago by a group that had started a grassroots effort to build a replacement windmill. He said people in the construction industry broached the idea of a public-private partnership.

“Obviously, it’s near and dear to people’s hearts, including mine,” he said.

There are many issues to be resolved, such as where to place the structure, but Woessner said discussions are “quite serious.”

“We should take this momentum and see what we can do with it,” he said.

Councilmember Tara Hizon said she understood that financing wasn’t the reason the city hasn’t made any progress on rebuilding the windmill before now, but that officials wanted to take the time to build a “showpiece,” possibly in a later phase of Windjammer Park construction.

Severns said Gideon Cauffman, the city’s archaeologist, has been involved in discussions about the windmill and will be the city’s point person on the issue.

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