|3/4/2014 12:56:00 PM|
Letters to the Editor 03/05/2014
To the Editor:
The economic forum was a great way to share ideas and vision for Sisters (see related story, page 1). We had a room-full but would love to have seen the child-rearing parents, middle (my) aged people there. We exchanged some great ideas but need any and everyone who has children to contribute to the conversation.
First, how about we commit to working together as a village. In past administrations we grew accustomed to the city putting out notices and proposals before acting.
We want to weigh in before action is taken. We as a grateful community will commit to not being adversarial because we will be fully informed. If we have a complaint, both Andrew and Brad have asked us to call them personally. We cannot push against each other if we're going to change and grow.
We have a real dilemma: Numbers are in steady decline in our schools. We are already stretched to the brink, and with more cuts coming, we will lose the most valuable resource we have in this community - our teachers and our children. Quality educators will leave or be laid off and so will families who moved to this town for the schools. Sisters will be a community of retirees, people with independent means, and the few who serve them.
We need to pull together and come up with a way to get working-class families to move to Sisters. Who wouldn't want to get out of the damp, populated Willamette Valley and move to Sisters to raise their kids if they thought it was possible? Many of us did it on a wing and a prayer, and still do.
The answers don't lie in waiting for developers to deliver economic stimulus, they lie in an empowered working class that follows radical dreams to live a balanced life in a place of incredible beauty and stellar schools.
The risk has paid off for our family. We have a son at OSU studying to be a nuclear engineer. All of the fine educators from kindergarten on are responsible for his success. Our daughter has such a fierce work ethic I have to tell her to take a break from studying. These are all skills learned from their journey through Sisters schools. We are so grateful to all the incredibly hardworking people growing our children into such great learners. They are our future, is there any greater concern or return?
To the Editor:
I expressed my concerns about the Creekside Campground proposal in a letter last week and received a follow-up phone call from Councilor Womack. During our conversation, I suggested that a public meeting be held at the campground to explain the proposed project and include a drive-through of a motor coach pulling a car to demonstrate how that is even possible. He seemed to think that was a good idea and said be he'd bring it to the council.
At the City Council meeting Thursday night, Mayor Boyd stressed several times how council listens to citizens and that there would be more public meetings about this issue, yet the suggestion of a public meeting at the campground never came up as a possibility. So I got up and asked Councilor Womack why not and he said he hadn't gotten around to mentioning it. Well, hello ... wouldn't before this meeting have been appropriate?
It appears to me there is not only a lack of communication with residents but among council members. Is it any wonder council goes on thinking they are doing what the community wants, plunging ahead with projects apparently a majority of people don't want, and then they wonder why so many people are outraged? They may listen, but they do not hear.
To the Editor:
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country," so said Paul Revere. This statement also holds true for Sisters. With Cascade Avenue closing until May, "now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their businesses."
Traffic will be rerouted and we will all have to be patient, but let's not forget those businesses that are located on Cascade. Now is the time for all of us to step up and make an extra effort to support those businesses. Make a point to eat out often at the restaurants for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, even if you have to park and walk to the restaurant. Shop at the stores located on Cascade for an upcoming birthday or anniversary gift. Turn on the side street and make your way into the side of the gas station where you normally turn into from Cascade.
Tourists and visitors (the few we have in the winter) don't always know which street to turn onto to get to a preferred business, so they may choose to bypass it. This is not acceptable for those of us who live here in Sisters Country. Shopping local has always been important, especially in the long winter months. Now it is imperative. We want our town to thrive and we must support and appreciate our businesses.
While you're at the restaurant, store or gas station, tell them how much you appreciate them sticking it out over the long haul for a product that will be enjoyed by all of us. Let them know you understand how hard it must be for them right now and that you will continue to support them. They need your kind words and they need your money.
The Cascade Avenue renovation project will be beautiful and effective when it is complete. We look forward to the celebration party walking along the wider sidewalks and appreciating the new landscaping. Let's make sure we are celebrating with all of our Cascade businesses, honoring them for their tenacity and honoring ourselves for supporting our hometown businesses by shopping local.
To the Editor:
I find it ironic that one week after "the big snow storm" the Sisters Public Works Department published a reminder to business and homeowners about their responsibilities for snow removal. Yet it has been three weeks now since the snow fell and there are numerous parking spaces on major Sisters roads still blocked by snow. As many as 10 parking spots were blocked last week in front of the Sisters Library. This week it was down to about seven blocked spots. I have noticed numerous parking spaces blocked on Hood Avenue as well, which is about to become a major detour route when the road construction starts.
It would be nice if the City followed its own advice about snow removal and cleaned up the snow left on city streets.
Linda Gustafson, Camp Sherman
Editor's note: Sisters Public Works Director Paul Bertagna told The Nugget that clearing piles from spaces in front of Sisters businesses is technically the responsibility of the property owner, though the city has hauled off snow after big storms. The snow pile in front of the library is probably the city's to deal with, based on a mutual agreement, and Bertagna said, "we're on it."
To the Editor:
Last Tuesday's "economic summit" was a good show, but why wasn't the 2013 Economic Strategic Plan part of the event? This professional $10,000 plan took months of hard work involving diverse residents, and requires research prior to implementing projects. What a concept!
After Tuesday's meeting I joined two other business people in conversation with Mayor Boyd and City Manager Gorayeb. Both officials bemoaned the mistrust and city's bad reputation, repeatedly saying their hands are tied and nothing can be done. They laid full blame on a few disgruntled individuals.
I knew nothing of (their) supposed misinformation campaign but attempted to explain that community mistrust dates back to boondoggles like the secret back-in-parking fiasco, followed by the city's unpublicized change from asphalt to concrete requiring an entire summer-long closure of Highway 20. Both officials stared blankly and neither would discuss improving transparency or reaching out to the community who hired them.
Wednesday, when Gorayeb's plan for Creekside Park was published, verifying Jack Nagel's petition, I felt violated for participating in their conversation. Honest news leaks out through concerned citizens specifically because the city doesn't provide it first. What do our city officials gain by secrecy and lies? Don't they realize there's value in collaboration?
Pet PROJECTS seem to trump any genuine interest in community opinion or economic stability. Perhaps we need to figure out how to legally revise government protocol before we lose what we love.
To the Editor:
When considering what to do to improve our economic growth, perhaps we need to slow down a bit, think about how we want to grow and what type of tourists we want to attract.
Let's think about why many of us are here in the first place. What keeps you here and what attracted you to Sisters?
For many, the answers would include our beautiful environment, majestic mountains, good schools, family, an active and environmentally concerned community, numerous recreational activities, and a population that is intellectually active and concerned about the well-being of the area.
THAT is what we are about. Yes, we have our wonderful passions of music, quilts, rodeos, art, etc., and celebrate them with gusto.
But, just maybe, it would be wise to bring people here to appreciate us; our environment, history and culture. Many communities, and countries, are cashing in on ecotourism, in an effort to improve their economic standing, while teaching tourists to respect their natural environments. (Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the local people.")
Communities that choose to take the path of ecotourism find that the path generally incorporates all aspects of their lives, and the tourists lives, including education, science, music, art, sports, volunteerism, and social responsibility.
True, it would take a lot more work and planning than simply building a new structure. It would take ongoing planning, in many directions, over an extended period time, with a huge community/volunteer involvement, but Sisters would benefit far into the future with a development plan geared toward sustaining what we cherish.
Bringing large numbers of people into the area, (who arrive suddenly, then leave) for busy, loud events, may be damaging to our area in the long run. It might make more sense to bring a continual flow of guests to our community, who have the health and well-being of the area as their primary interest. Whatever we do to improve the economics of Sisters, let's please keep in mind that we live in a fragile environment, and we are the caretakers.
To the Editor:
Twenty years ago I was traveling through Sisters on the start of what would prove to be a year-long bicycling trip. I spent the night in a tent, under the pine trees (not paved), next to the creek at the Sisters City Campground.
That night had an impact on me and it is NOT a coincidence that many years later I would choose to relocate, raise my children and start a business in the City of Sisters ... more than partly because of the impact that single night had on me.
First, let me state that yes, when I bought my house, I knew that I was buying a house directly across the street from the City Campground (not paved, and without power hookups). However, I DID NOT choose to buy a house across the street from a paved-site, full-hookup, city RV park!
The city is looking at developing/expanding the campground in 2 phases, first removing 25 non-hookup sites and replacing them with 24 full-hookup sites, changing the access on Locust, building a restroom facility, an office and a concession stand.
This "improvement" involves the removal of numerous trees and the paving of a significant amount of bare ground. This is only Phase 1 in a two-phase project.
I think it's great that the city wants to boost revenue and have more capital, I just hope it doesn't happen at the expense of the quaint nature and the quality of life that we enjoy in this beautiful town.
We are fortunate that we have a voice with the city and the council and that when opinions are expressed, they are truly listened to and considered.
You may not agree with me, but if you have a strong opinion one way or the other, please attend the public hearing at Sisters City Hall on March 20, at 5:30 p.m.
As a friend recently said, "If you're not involved, you can't complain."
To the Editor:
The recent removal of 16 damaged and diseased trees in Bend's Pioneer and Drake parks had been front-page news in The Bulletin. However, the proposed removal of 26 significant ponderosa pines in Sisters Creekside Park to accommodate the proposed expansive RV park has not been front-page news in Sisters.
Should this ill-advised project proceed, will the Sisters City Council take down the Sisters Tree City flag that flies above the "Welcome to Sisters" sign at the east end of town?
One wonders what has become of the Sisters City Council that sees progress here in fewer trees and more concrete?
Byron H. Dudley
To the Editor:
We write to champion healthy eating in Sisters. This past fall the Science Club, the School District, local organic farmers and other community members came together to launch a community-wide seed-to-table program focused first on enhancing nutritious food in the elementary school.
Under the leadership of Jim Golden, the district's nutritional services, and a few volunteers, a free healthy lunch is now provided there for every child. Teachers in all three schools have started recycling and composting systems, and culinary classes have begun in the high school with TR McCrystal. Long-term goals include bringing student-grown produce into markets and offering classes to the community in food science.
We oppose bringing fast-food restaurants anywhere into Sisters. Nutritional scientists note that fast foods are bad foods for healthy living, being excessively high in calories, added sugars, fats, trans-fats and sodium (www.acaloriecounter.com/fast-food.php).
Such restaurants would undermine the work of our new educational programs and send the wrong message to visitors. Rather, the city should enhance Sisters as a place of natural beauty and healthy living. Currently there are no restrictions against fast food joints in downtown Sisters, and restrictions just west of town are so weak as to allow several more to come in and join McDonald's. We urge citizens to attend the town hall on March 6 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall to voice their opinions.
Bob Collins, Cal Allen and David Hiller
Sisters Science Club
To the Editor:
As a new resident of Sisters, I was surprised to learn that the plan to "improve" the Creekside Campground included cutting a bunch of trees, eliminating most tent camping spots and squeezing in more RV spaces. Having visited the campground many times, I was unaware that it needed such a drastic change. Suddenly the old Joni Mitchell song, "....pave paradise to put in a parking lot" started running a continuous loop in my head.
I decided to attend the city council meeting to learn more, and it was quite an experience. I've attended several city council meetings in Portland where obviously deranged citizens had their say and yet they were always treated with respect and thanked for their comments.
But on this night, the mayor interrupted a citizen speaker numerous times in an attempt to challenge the veracity of his statement while he was trying to make it. The fact in question was the premature cutting of trees in the campground before the project had been officially approved. The mayor insisted that only four trees would be cut at a future date while the speaker claimed that many had already been cut! This went back and forth until a city employee spoke up that they had, in fact, just done a bit of "routine trimming."
As the bumper sticker says, "Stumps Don't Lie"; on a walk-through the next day I saw about 20 stumps, some of them 10 or 12 inches in diameter.
More concerning to me than the tree-cutting is the timeline of the renovation. The public was first informed of the city's plans in an article in The Nugget on February 11 - THREE DAYS before the period for public comment officially closed.
This is not a reasonable timeline for a government that truly wants an engaged citizenry.
Perhaps the reason for this lies in the Sisters Parks Master Plan. Only two years old, the plan was done with the help of a paid professional consultant and extensive community outreach. On page 71, it clearly states: "This plan does not include any recommendations for Three Sisters Overnight Park." Apparently, some within the city government think they know what's best for us.
As I write this, about 250 citizens have already expressed their displeasure by petition and email. If you agree that this project needs to be derailed and the city held accountable, I suggest you attend the next planning commission meeting at City Hall on Thursday, March 20, at 5:30 p.m.
To the Editor:
The Tollgate Property Owners Association (TPOA) has proposed amendments to the community's CC&Rs, and some of them are not in the best interests of Tollgate residents. Members are being asked to vote on the amendments as one article.
One amendment would allow an architectural review committee or the Tollgate Board of Directors to independently and arbitrarily decide whether improvements to a lot are unsightly and should be removed. If approved, a garden feature that's not prohibited by the CC&Rs could be ordered removed simply because the capricious personal taste of a small group of people does not match your own.
Another amendment would require heating and air conditioning units - even a mobile AC unit mounted in a window - to be screened from view from neighboring units and common areas (basically everywhere). Such micromanagement of basic necessities is an arbitrary, unnecessary and cost-incurring intrusion. What's next? Forbidding cars to be parked in driveways?
Article 5.1.6 would be amended to allow 51 percent of the voting membership to empower TPOA to dedicate or transfer common area adjoining your property to "any public agency, authority or utility." Such action can't currently be taken without approval of two-thirds of the membership, a higher threshold. If approved, this amendment would make it easier for you to be deprived of the natural buffer behind your home, with an attendant loss of property value.
At the same time, TPOA is striving to make it harder to remove these amendments once approved: the percentage of "yes" votes required to do so would be increased from a two-thirds majority to 75 percent of total votes.
The proposed amendments give the Tollgate board greater unchecked power to intrude in both silly and far-reaching ways on Tollgate property owners. I urge all Tollgate residents to cast a "no" vote.
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