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To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: walmartwillnotwin - Please comment on Wal-Mart EIS
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 16:11:17 +0000
We in Tumwater would very much appreciate it if people would comment on the Wal-Mart Environmental Impact Statement. The only way to stop this monstrosity is to have as many eyes scrutinizing the EIS as possible and calling them on any weaknesses, discrepancies, fudging of facts, omissions, etc. The Wal-Mart EIS is available on the City of Tumwater's web site.
One little bit of dissembling that I discovered in perusing the document is that the store, which they keep saying will be 208,000 square feet, will actually be closer to 230,000 square feet. The way they got around that is by calling the 21,000 square foot garden center, which is actually part of the store, "seasonal". There will be approximately 1,000 parking stalls in conjunction with this store.
I have recently been trying to get the City of Tumwater to focus on ways to encourage non-motorized transportation into its commercial zones. What keeps happening in our towns is that the areas where people shop are so completely auto-oriented that dead zones are created in the middle of what should be vibrant, livable cities. A perfect example is Lacey, which has taken this type of development to the nth degree. Lacey's Mayor, City Council and staff are quite proud of this aspect of their urban planning, as evidenced by Mayor Virgil Clarkson's recent comments to the Sitting Duck:
Mr. Clarkson, recognizing the many challenges facing downtown Olympia merchants, said he was not in favor of his community having a "classic downtown", though he recognizes the need for "commercial districts".
The only way to avoid the problems facing downtown Olympia, Mr. Clarkson said, "is to never have one."
With its big-box row on Littlerock Road, Tumwater is following the same tragic trajectory, in a section of town where numerous high-density subdivisions, popping up like mushrooms after a rain, are within easy walking and biking distance.
The Wal-Mart EIS, is a perfect illustration of the auto-maniacal mind-set . Under the section entitled Pedestrian Impacts, the proponents have written this:
The proposed project would include typical pedestrian facilities to promote the use of alternative modes of transportation. Typically non-motorized trips are not a major component of the overall traffic patterns associated with this type of development. Although the site is not likely to generate a high number of pedestrian trips, the current proposal identifies frontage improvements along Littlerock road that include curb, gutter and sidewalks. The sidewalks on the east side of Littlerock Road will connect to the sidewalks constructed as part of the Littlerock Road project and provide a linkage to area north of the site.
Whoa, Wal-Mart. Please don't overwhelm us with your new "environmental sensitivity".
There is no mention in this document of internal pedestrian walkways, bike lanes or transit access. In Lacey, people have to walk a quarter mile to get from Wal-Mart to the nearest bus stop.
The Tumwater Wal-Mart store, (with Littlerock Road frontage equaling Fred Meyer's and Costco's combined) is proposed to be built across the street from two cemetaries (one a historical cemetary), a middle school and a future neighborhood park with sports fields.
We would gratefully accept any help people could give us to halt this travesty in Tumwater.
Report details Wal-Mart ripples
Traffic, large grocery stores biggest losers in analysis of proposed Tumwater Supercenter
By Christian Hill
TUMWATER - The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter here would create 400 jobs, but also increase traffic congestion, increase police calls by 350 a year, cause 324 trees to be cut down and possibly hurt three nearby major stores.
However, an economic analysis outlines ways to mitigate of those effects. They include requiring the planting of new trees, shielding exterior lighting and upgrading surrounding intersections to better handle the traffic, to name a few.
The analysis says a Wal-Mart would not have significant effects on smaller grocers and existing retailers that don't sell groceries.
However, the proposed store at 5900 Littlerock Road S.W. would "likely pose considerable competition" for nearby Albertson's, Costco and Fred Meyer stores, according to the analysis prepared by Seattle-based Gardner Johnson, which provides commercial market analysis.
The analysis is part of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement that spells out the effects of the proposed 207,000-square-foot store on local roads, the environment and the economy.
The city will hold a public hearing on the project June 12. Residents have until June 30 to submit comments on the study's draft findings.
A final draft will emerge from those comments. Development Services Director Roger Gellenbeck acknowledged there is "strong probability" that either the applicant or opponents could appeal the final document because the project has been controversial.
"It will be the guideline that we will use in the subsequent approval or denial of their (Wal-Mart's) permit applications" by Tumwater officials, Gellenbeck said.
It is not known when that decision would be made.
The study outlines that the proposed store would have significant effects, notably increasing traffic congestion on the Trosper Road corridor, but concludes none is so severe it can't be mitigated.
One of the concerns some residents, both locally and nationally, have raised about Wal-Mart stores is the negative effect their rock-bottom prices have on other retail stores nearby and their low wages and benefits have on communities.
Citing what it called p eer-reviewed research in respected publications, Gardner Johnson's analysis concludes that concern has merit in isolated rural and Midwest communities where Wal-Mart stores expanded to more than a decade ago under different economic conditions.
The analysis states: "Tumwater does not match the profile of rural, declining or depressed communities susceptible to negative, adverse impacts from the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter."
"The impacts of commercial activity estimated above will not be in a vacuum, however, and local businesses and residents will be affected in varying degrees," it goes on to say.
Existing retailers that don't sell groceries won't be significantly affected because they already face some competition from the Wal-Mart in Lacey, the analysis says.
"Therefore, a new Wal-Mart store in Tumwater does not pose unprecedented competition to existing businesses in Tumwater," it states.
Three residents who previously had testified on the Wal-Mart issue said this week they hadn't yet reviewed the draft and weren't in a position to comment on it.
The proposed Wal-Mart and three nearby retailers would duke it out, the analysis continues, but the effects to small and specialty grocers cannot be viewed as significant.
Olympia-based Pacland, the applicant for the Wal-Mart project, hired Gardner Johnson to draft the analysis.
Each market analysis Gardner Johnson does is unique because each community is growing at a different rate and has different retail realities, said Bill Reid, senior associate, who was primary author of the Tumwater analysis.
"There is no cookbook recipe," he said.
A Wal-Mart store would have less effect on competitors in areas with high growth, such as Tumwater, than in communities on the decline, he said.
"That's the big issue that gets lost in all the propaganda, pro and con," he said.
A Wal-Mart spokesw oman said the company is reviewing the draft and its engineering consultants have been in communication with the city. She declined further comment.
Wal-Mart at a glance
- The store would create up to 400 jobs, 70 percent of which would be full time.
- The store's average wage is expected to be $10.10 per hour, 7 percent lower than the average retail wage in Thurston County.
- The store would generate 9,716 new trips "in other words, one vehicle either coming or going from the parking lot" each day. The time to get through several intersections would lengthen along Trosper Road, with the greatest increase at the Interstate 5 southbound ramps. The applicant has proposed various fixes to mitigate traffic effects, and it will be up to city staff to determine whether they go far enough.
- The development would cut down 65 unhealthy and 324 healthy trees on the 21-acre site, leaving 54 large, healthy trees. Wal-Mart would plant another 393 trees and contribute money to the city tree fund, which pays for the planting of trees in public areas.
- The proposed store would generate around 350 police calls each year, an estimate based on the response of the Chehalis Police Department to the Wal-Mart superstore there. Without more manpower, that level of calls would "make life more difficult" for his officers, Cmdr. John Stines said. However, Mayor Ralph Osgood has said the city will hire two new officers if the store is built.
- The store is expected to generate $718,000 in tax revenue each year to the city, more than enough to pay for police and fire protection and public road maintenance it requires.
Source: Gardner Johnson economic analysis
Document available for review
The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Wal-Mart store is now available for public review and comment through June 30.
The study includes two alternatives - no development, or a retail store that includes the relocation of Kingswood Drive, a public road that now bisects the 21-acre property, to the southern edge of the property. The City Council must approve the street vacation, however.
The study is a supplemental report, as it essentially fits the Wal-Mart proposal into the original Environmental Impact Statement done in 1993 for a larger proposed commercial development known as Tumwater Town Center. In February 2005, the city held a public meeting to receive comments on what issues should be examined during in the supplemental study.
Copies of the draft supplemental study are available for review at the Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St. S.W., and the Tumwater Developmen t Services Office or City Clerk's office in City Hall, 555 Israel Road S.W. It also can be viewed and printed online at www.ci.tumwater.wa.us.
A CD or printed copy of the document is available for $25 or $35, respectively, from the Development Services Office.
Written comments can be mailed to Tumwater City Hall, 555 Israel Road S.W., Tumwater, WA 98501. The deadline to submit written comments is 5 p.m. on June 30.
In addition, the city will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on June 12 in City Hall.
For more information, call Senior Planner Chris Carlson at 360-754-4180.
Christian Hill can be reached at 360-754-5427 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.