Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona"

Just finished listening to Imus in the Morning talk about the impact of Wal-Mart on small town America. He recounted taking his wife to the Winslow, Arizona, the town made famous in the Eagles song. He told his audience that it was really sad because the town was almost completely boarded up. The reason: Wal-Mart was built on the highway right on the outskirts of town.

This is the reality in many different areas of this country and it must come into play as Ramapo begins to gauge the store's impact along the RT. 59 corridor in Rockland County, New York. The economic and social costs must be carefully examined so the putative benefits are put into the proper perspective.

The Alliance's consultant Brian Ketcham does this in his traffic analysis. He points out that consultants hired by developers almost never examine the social costs of additional traffic. This doesn't mean just the aggravation and lost work time for those stuck on RT. 59 trying to get to work or go home. As Ketcham points out in his prepared testimony the congestion can be quantified if you model the increase in the number of accidents and the environmental impact of the traffic jams: "The dollar cost of these impacts is estimated at about $30 million a year. These are costs shifted from Wal-Mart to your community."

The beguiling mantra of economic development in the case of a Wal-Mart needs to be thoroughly examined and, when seen in conjunction with increased traffic and crime, we believe that the costs far outweigh the benefits.