BOTHELL, Wash. - In a business where shelf life is short-lived, few places have the tradition, the longevity or the legacy of Bothell's Yakima Fruit Market.
Since 1938, generations of families have picked their produce in the same spot and generations of local students have worked there. And owners Stuart and Karin Poage were hoping to keep the market in the family.
"My husband and I have worked here since we were teenagers ourselves," Poage said. "We had always planned to pass it on to our children, and we hoped to live to see our grandchildren run the business. We don't know if that's going to be a reality now."
Sound Transit informed the Poages that its plans for Bus Rapid Transit along the State Route 522 corridor could include part of the property where the market has stood for 81 years.
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Bus lanes would be constructed where the front and parking lot of the market stand today. "One of the businesses that may be affected by construction is the Yakima Fruit Market and Nursery in Bothell," said Sound Transit spokesman John Gallagher in a written statement. "Sound Transit, in conjunction with the City of Bothell, has begun a dialogue with that business and others to understand the potential impacts that the project may have with the goal of minimizing those impacts."
Karin Poage said the word "impact" was an understatement. "We don't know if they're wiping us off the map," she said. "We don't know if they can relocate us. We don't know if they can mitigate our property so that we can remain her. It's all up in the air and there are no answers at this point."
"Sound Transit might have a fight on their hands," said customer Cal Cunningham, who said he has shopped at the market for 54 years. "There are a lot of people from Bothell who are pretty upset about it. You can't preserve the character of a community when you wipe its cherished institutions off the map."
Stewart Poage said the love and support from countless loyal customers has moved him. "I guess it means we matter to some people, and I hope we matter enough to Sound Transit for them to listen.''
Stewart Poage said he hired an attorney, but he has been advised that Sound Transit does not tend to be flexible. "We all wake up. we put our shoes on and walk out the door assuming that there's a day ahead," said Stewart Poage. "That's not in my reality space right now. I can't make investments or improvements or anything."
At the market's counter, customers grab postcards addressed to Sound Transit's board of directors. One longtime supporter is Cheryl Adcock, who said she wrote on her postcard, "Don't shut this down."
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