The City of Abilene Planning department recently announced that plans have been submitted to build a third Wal-Mart store in Abilene on the currently vacant lot located at the intersection of Oldham Lane and Loop 322. I’m writing this with the intent of raising community awareness of this development and allowing residents such as myself and my neighbors an opportunity to voice their displeasure.
A quick ‘google’ or ‘bing’ search on the topic will return numerous news articles, blogs, and published research papers which argue both positive and negative impacts the installation of a new Wal-Mart store can have on communities and neighborhoods. My purpose here is not to begin or sustain any debate on the facts or opinions presented in any of these resources, but to present you with my own opinion on and the concerns I have. I currently live immediately across the street from this proposed building site and I will, no doubt, have different feelings on this matter than people who live elsewhere. If, however, you find that you have similar perspective and opinions as I present here, please sign our petition at change.org so we can let our city planners know how we feel.
As I stated earlier, it’s not difficult to find varying perspectives and opinions on how a new Wal-Mart will impact a neighborhood or city. Whether or not you enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart stores yourself or loathe them, there are undeniable factors to be considered before such a business can be installed so close to residential neighborhoods. There are some who, as I do, worry that a Wal-Mart so close to our homes will negatively impact our residential property values, increase violent and property crime rates (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/12/walmart-crime-rates_n_4775169.html), increase traffic and traffic accidents, and even negatively impact our local economy over the long term. Residents in other communities have had the same fears and there is plenty of information available that supports these concerns.
Certainly there are those who are proponents of the new store and the two most often referenced positive impacts I have heard/read are the addition of new jobs to our area and the overall positive impact on our economy and tax base. In fact, though, both of those ‘pros’ are debatable and much of what I’ve found when researching the topic points to an actual decline in employment and reduction in individual income for those who ARE employed as well as net losses for the local economy and tax base over the long term. Some of this information is actually quite alarming (http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2405-real-cost-walmart.html) and it is difficult understand why ANY community that already has 2 Wal-Mart Supercenters would consider introducing a third.
Please, take the time to visit some of the links I’ve included and perhaps research the issues yourself. I’ll close this with a few questions to ponder.
1. Does a town of Abilene’s size actually need three Wal-Mart stores?
2. What positive impact or value does a third Wal-Mart store actually bring our community?
3. Would you want a Wal-Mart store (and with it the added traffic, noise, trash, potential for crime, and losses in residential property values) across the street from your home or so near to your neighborhood?
In addition to the petition I have published at change.org, you may contact the City of Abilene Planning Department yourself via phone at (325)676-6230 or via fax at (325)676-6242 as well as submit your own questions and concerns online at http://www.abilenetx.com/index/abilene411.htm.
A few links and references: