News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Let’s get creative

I feel a bit nervous writing my first letter to The Nugget’s editor in about 25 years. When I was a student at Sisters Elementary School I decided to share my feelings about the Space Age gas station that, at the time, was a new business in town. I voiced what appeared to be popular opinion at the time, as Jim Cornelius responded to my pre-adolescent missive decrying a brand I perceived to be incongruous with our small town’s “feel” with a flattering, though I assume not serious, job offer.

My younger self did not contribute a positive review of the business, to say the least.

Now, here I am, many years older and hopefully a little wiser, with a follow up: I invite the owners of the Space Age gas station to get creative as they are moving toward expanding their business in Sisters.

I may be wrong, but it seems like the current plan would be to remove (or displace?) Richard’s Farmstand and the C&C Nursery in order to achieve the goal of more pumps and a larger convenience store.

This plan would possibly improve profits in the long run, but runs the risk of souring many in the community who are in opposition (for reference, I would like to present any recent copy of The Nugget).

Our more vocal community members are not too keen on the idea of Sisters’ downtown development going the way of other...ahem...regional examples.

In my opinion, it would also be obvious to any recent Nugget reader that Richard’s Farmstand holds a special place in the town’s heart, in addition to being one of the few sources of fresh, low-cost produce in town for many months out of the year. I graduated from SHS with Richard’s son, Mike, and have admired for decades Richard’s dedication to meeting a major need for the availability of affordable fruits and veggies in Sisters (both before and after he opened his own business).

So I ask this of the gas station owners: Why not work with Richard’s Farmstand and C&C Nursery to allow them to continue business on the property as a part of the new development? What would prevent the convenience store from housing a produce section inside, in addition to snacks, drinks, etc.? Couldn’t there be a versatile indoor/outdoor space, a greenhouse, or some other solution attached to the structure for the nursery? I have never patronized the Space Age station, but I know that if all involved found a way to get creative and include these vital businesses (and perhaps a local coffee company to serve drinks to go? Just sayin...), the Space Age gas station would absolutely earn my business as well as many others in our community who want to see our town grow in ways that are creative, thoughtful, and also good for business owners and our town’s health (both physical and social).

It is quite obvious that we cannot avoid growth, but to only see two options here (either the City rejects the Space Age’s proposal, or two out of two local businesses suffer or are closed in the expansion) would be, I believe, a heartbreaking missed opportunity for a creative third, or fourth, or fifth approach.

What is less quantifiable would be our town’s “feel,” or sense of shared story, but I believe the vast majority of us consider those “intangibles” a priceless asset. Sisters is what it is because of Richard’s produce stand as well as the Space Age Gas station, and we need to start thinking outside of the box to keep that “us-ness” alive. Jim, I still don’t need a job, but I hope this letter serves as at least a decent follow-up to my previous offering. And to the owners of Space Age, my apologies for the negativity I contributed to the conversation in the ’90s. I’m hoping to contribute something more constructive this time around.

 

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