WILMINGTON - Wilmington's only gas station, originally scheduled to close on Tuesday, will remain open a little bit longer.
The gas pumps sport the Sunoco brand, and the convenience store is part of the Wilson Farms chain, owned by 7-Eleven Inc., based in Dallas, Texas. Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications for 7-Eleven, which purchased Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food Stores in May 2011, told the News that Wilson Farms will "soon cease operations of its Wilmington location.
"However, we are delaying this beyond the planned April 9 date in an effort to help facilitate other options for this store and its employees," she said.
Chabris didn't provide any more information about the pending closure.
Some Wilmington residents are concerned about the loss of their only gas station. The closure will require motorists to drive 5 miles to Jay or 12 miles to Lake Placid to fill their tanks. Wilmington is home to about 1,250 people and is passed through by many tourists and travelers.
"You didn't know it was happening unless you went to the store," Wilmington resident Michelle Hozley told the News. "We got a month's notice."
Hozley said the closure will be a hardship for Wilmington residents, especially the older population. Al Armstrong, owner of the Mountain Brook Lodge, agreed.
"We get thousands of visitors who come every summer, especially the motorcyclists," Armstrong said. "They come into Wilmington on fumes."
Armstrong added that residents who rely on kerosene to heat their homes would often purchase fuel at Wilson Farms.
Wilmington town Supervisor Randy Preston said he's not sure what led to the closure, but noted there is an "unresolved gas spill" at the site that involves three parties: 7-Eleven, which owns the business itself; Phil Saunders, who owns the property; and Schmitt Sales, a fuel company out of western New York that owns the gas. He said he also thinks another gas station option could be in the works, but he doesn't have any details on that at the moment.
"The trio, together, doesn't play out well," Preston said. "Sadly, we've tried to reach out to people to get answers, and quite frankly, they've never been like a Stewart's Shop - where Stewart's is really a community player; they give back. We've never been able to get (the owners of this station) to do anything.
"It's certainly going to hurt us that it's closing."
The News tried to reach a Philip Saunders listed in the phone book at a Lake Placid address but was unsuccessful. A message was also left for a representative at Schmitt Sales.
"I do know that there are things in the works - other options," Preston said. "Now whether they're going to become fruitful or not, at this point, I don't know. I do think, sooner or later, something is going to work out, I just don't know when exactly that's going to be."