It takes a village to raise a village
Last updated 7/18/2023 at 10:14am
Last winter the news of a plan to “supersize” the Space Age gas station got the attention of many Sisters residents. Most agreed it was a poorly conceived plan. Not only would it be an eyesore upon entering town and worsen our ongoing traffic problem, a lot of folks regretted the loss of our charming plant nursery and produce stand. Both would be ousted in the process of constructing a truck-stop-like gas station.
Despite local concern, most people believed it would be a losing battle to speak out. Our small town was already experiencing unprecedented growth. And no one seemed to care. How could we possibly stop the wheels of “progress” from steamrolling merrily along?
In February, a number of concerned citizens gathered to discuss the proposed gas station, as well as other growth-related problems, and the Community Action Team of Sisters (CATS) was revived back to life. More meetings were held, and people of various skills, backgrounds, and talents stepped up. Some offered to research, some to coordinate, some to speak out publicly, some to circulate petitions, some to meet with city officials. And a grassroots campaign was launched to save our sweet town from an unwanted mega gas station.
There were times when the battle looked hopeless. How do you fight City Hall? Some felt we offered too little too late. After all, the owners of Space Age had deep pockets and monetary motivations. Plus the City code had already been amended to accommodate their enlargement plans. Many were convinced the City, already overwhelmed with growth, wouldn’t listen anyway. And everyone was too busy.
But it turned out that these David versus Goliath efforts were worthwhile. Because on Thursday, July 13, our City’s planning commission voted unanimously to deny Space Age’s application to enlarge their gas station.
This was an amazing victory for everyone who loves the city of Sisters. And something we should all celebrate. The City did care! They were listening! But this miracle probably would never have happened if that concerned handful of dedicated residents hadn’t spoken up, rolled up their sleeves, and actually done something.
You will probably never know the names or faces of the citizens who stepped up, or how many long hours some of them put into this almost six-month effort, but if you love our town like they do, you can be grateful for their investment. And this proves that, although we have elected officials and City employees to keep our town running somewhat smoothly, it really requires caring citizen participation to make sure our town is run in the best interest of all.
As our small town continues to grow and change, it will take even more of its residents’ involvement to ensure that Sisters evolves into the best place it can be. And if you call Sisters “home,” it might even require some effort on your part. Because, while we can celebrate this victory, there are still troubling growth-related issues lurking ahead. Problems that should concern anyone who truly loves this charming burg. You see, it really does take a village to raise a village — but our sweet town is worth it!