ENCINITAS, Calif. -- The stump of  large Torrey pine laid low by bark beetles is being transformed into a sculpture by a local artist.

The city cut down the tree in January. For the next several weeks, Encinitas resident Tim Richards will be chipping away at the 11-foot stump at Swami's Seaside Park.

"It's a Torrey Pine, but it's a lot harder than what I have worked with before," Richards said.

Richards will be at the park six hours a day, six days a week, shaping and perfecting his sculpture. The city gave him permission to carve what's left of the 80-year-old tree into a replica of an Easter Island head, also known as a tiki. He said he chose to carve a tiki because of the dimensions of the stump.

"I thought I made the most use of the log," Richards said.

When finished, the carving will resemble the huge stone heads carved by Polynesians on Easter Island in Chile about 700 hundred years ago.

"I was thrilled that I got the opportunity, but once I got it, I was thinking, 'How am I going to do this?'" said Richards.

Some area residents are looking forward to the finished product.

"It's honoring the tree. and it's going to look great," said one resident.

But others are unhappy about how the decision was made.

"My only grievance is when a community has an opportunity to put in a piece of art, it's nice to elicit input from the community," said Encinitas resident Gary Elliot.

Richards said his project has been in the works since last November. And if residents don't like it, at least they aren't paying for it. He's carving the stump for free.

"I'm hoping people will like it," he said. "Some have already told me they will dress it up like the Cardiff Kook, and that's fine with me," said Richards.