Is Springfield losing its charm?

With economic developments in downtown Springfield, residents fear the city may lose its unique personality.

By Kira Tchack

As the city of Springfield experiences economic growth citizens fear the downtown will lose the small town feel that has lined the streets for years.

Nestled in the Willamette Valley, between the McKenzie River and old growth forests, Springfield residents believe it still has its old town charm. The streets downtown are lined with large aging houses, and many of the stores on Main Street have the same flags on the sidewalks in front of their stores beckoning people to enter as they pass by.

But according to residents that is slowly changing. George Cloud, owner of White Cloud Jewelers Inc., believes the ‘city is growing up like any other small town eventually does.’

“They start out as nice, little, sweet, slow moving things,” Cloud said. “And as everything progresses pretty soon they’ve got more problems, more crime. This happens everywhere.”

Cloud has been in the downtown area since the 1970s and he said he has seen the businesses grow all the way out to Thurston and begin to crowd the area.

Frank Stahl is a volunteer at the Emerald Art Center on Main Street. The gallery is mostly volunteer run and has been a mainstay on the same corner for almost 50 years, but business is down and the art gallery is struggling to survive.

Stahl is a resident of Eugene and only visits Springfield a few times a month, but he enjoys the old houses that remind people of the time when it was a booming lumber city, and he does not want that to change.

“I would like to see it be more economically viable without destroying its small town atmosphere,” Stahl said.

Gateways High School principal, and longtime resident Chris Reiersgaard believes the opening of the new hospital and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines call centers brought needed jobs to the area that could have went to Eugene.

“The old mayor did a great job of promoting Springfield as a place for businesses to come………We have actually grabbed some things and pulled them over so I think that steps it up a little bit,” Reiersgaard said.

With a city that residents feel are in need of major economic growth is it reasonable to believe that an old town feel can still be maintained?

According to residents, Springfield is already getting bigger, and with the growth of the performing arts buildings and high rise apartments on Main Street, the city is already losing some of its old school charm.

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One of the charming houses that line the streets of Old Town Springfield

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