Sisters residents debate amphitheater plans

Idea to spur economy gets mixed reviews

SISTERS, Ore. - Plans to build a new amphitheater in Sisters are just beginning, and the reviews over the idea are mixed.

The city is proposing to build a 3,3000-seat facility off Lotus Street near Barclay Drive and Larch Street.

"The idea of an amphitheater came out of some of the community visioning processes that were happening in '04 and '05," Mayor Brad Boyd said Tuesday night.

Then the economic downturn hit, and plans were put on hold.

Since then, the city has been trying to rebound, but some shops downtown remain empty.

The city council and mayor began exploring the idea of an amphitheater last year.

In November, the city announced it had put down a $25,000 refundable deposit on 11.5 acres within the city limits.

The move has angered some in the community, who feel the city is going to move ahead with the plans despite opposition.

"I have been in business all my life, but I don't know why you don't first ask what we should do, then work upon doing it, instead of presenting it like it was last week of, 'This is what we are going to do,'" Bob Norman of Sisters said.

Tuesday night, the city hosted a second public meeting at Sisters High School.

"I thought the meeting went well," Boyd said. "I thought we listened to what people had to say."

About 250 people showed up, and a majority of those who spoke weren't for the amphitheater idea.

"One of the things about democracy is, it's a little messy," Boyd said. "You are never going to get everyone to agree on a direction."

Although many of the speakers were against the idea, Boyd says when he is walking around the city in his everyday life, he hears from a majority of people who like the idea of an amphitheater.

"It's normal for us at city council to have people come when they are concerned with something or upset about something. They don't show up when they feel good about it."

Norman said, "They keep talking about bringing more business in, more business in,. Part of that is great -- but don't lose focus on the fact that this is a residential town, and people moved away from a lot of that to move here."

The city is going to continue to hold meetings on the idea, and is considering doing a poll. Boyd isn't sure when or if that will happen.

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