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Restored windmill will be operational generator of energy

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In 1905, the Murphy Windmill was built to take advantage of strong Pacific Ocean breezes to pump fresh water to the developing growth of Golden Gate Park.

But after the adoption of electric power for pumps, the windmill fell into disrepair, and stands as an unmoving testament to an ancient technology.

Now, more than a century after it was built, efforts of those working toward its restoration are coming to fruition and the windmill is on its way to operational status again.

To fund part of the restoration, the Board of Supervisors has elected to move $527,221 from the Urban Forestry Yard project to the Murphy Windmill project. Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said that if necessary, funding could be drawn from other sources to provide for the forestry project in turn.

"It’s dripping with tremendous history, it’s very important to the park," Dennis said of the windmill’s significance. "It’s a symbol of what John McClaren faced in developing the west end of the park."

Not only is the Murphy Windmill a symbol of the past, it’s also an example of how to take advantage of alternative energy sources, said Paula March, who was a major leader in the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills.

"This is a great asset for the whole Bay Area. It’s such a timely project in terms of the emphasis in exploring alternative energy sources," March said.

The cap of the windmill — with the essential machinery inside — was removed and shipped to the Netherlands for reconstruction, and part of the funds set aside by the Board of Supervisors may help to pay for its continued storage.

That cap will eventually be shipped back to San Francisco and reinstalled in the structure.

The money reallocated by the board for the project is actually being drawn from a grant of $783,000 that went to the forestry project as part of a larger grant from the state for over $32 million for Golden Gate Park projects.

The entire project will cost more than $4 million, with funding coming from a number of sources including the California Coastal Conservancy, the California Cultural Historic Endowment and various state propositions. jgoldman@examiner.com