We spent an interesting evening talking to the merchants from the Port Richmond Board of Trade. Like neighborhood retailers all over the city, they were concerned with the potential impact of the proposed Wal-Marts on Staten Island. As a result they voted to support the Neighborhood Retail Alliance’s efforts and oppose these developments.
What was interesting, we felt, was the concern these Staten Island businesspeople (and homeowners) felt over Wal-Mart’s lousy health benefits. They pointed out that the health care system on the Island is in crisis and flooding the community with more uninsured or underinsured workers would put an unfair burden on taxpayers. We believe that the fact that Wal-Mart receives taxpayer dollars to build stores and then is further subsidized vis-à-vis the number of its employees on public assistance (including their families) will be an especially salient sticking point on Staten Island.