Monday, June 19, 2006

Focus on Economic Impact for Monsey Wal-Mart

In yesterday's Journal News Sulaiman Beg continues his excellent work reporting on the evaluation process for the proposed Monsey Wal-Mart, in particular the Ramapo Town Board's decision to require a full review of the store's socio-economic impact. As Beg points out, "A decision to have the the economic ramifications of the project has proved to be a plus for the development's opponents."

Indeed it is a plus for opponents but, as the Alliance's Richard Lipsky points out, "This is a victory for the community...It's great that discretion was used to expand the scope and look at these essential issues. It's important information that needs to be examined." What needs to be done now is to insure that the kind of study that is done actually examines the real impact that a Wal-Mart can have on a local economy.

This is particularly true for the Monsey-Spring Valley area. As deputy town attorney Richard Ackerman says, "Why build new stores when there are already vacant ones?" The reaction of the developer also is cause for concern. Jerrold Bermingham says that Wal-Mart could "revitalize" this section of RT. 59 "making it more appealing to other national retailers."

If Bermingham believes that the building of a Wal-Mart will prompt a flood of additional national chains into the area than he better include these projections in the economic impact analysis. We know the kind of devastation that a supercenter can cause and an additional two or three chain stores will only exacerbate the situation. This is not good news for Monsey and Spring Valley retailers.

In fact the JN talks to our friend Abe Stauber who is busy organizing the Monsey retail community. Stauber doesn't see "how the project could be good for the heavily Orthodox Jewish Community." "Look what happened to downtown Spring Valley when the Nanuet Mall opened. I don't see a silver lining in the whole thing."

The next step is to prepare for the July town meeting. The purpose of the gathering will be to alert the impacted communities to the "high cost of low prices." The more people are educated the more difficult it will be for the developer to argue the putative merits of a Wal-Mart on the overcrowded traffic corridor of Rt. 59.