Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tottenville Wins: Wal-Mart Pulls the Plug-Again!

Crain's is reporting what we had been anticipating for a number of months, after rumors of conflict between Wal-Mart and its Staten Island developer surfaced; the giant retailer has once again pulled the plug on another NYC site. Wal-Mart and Tottenville was not a good match and Tottenville made that very clear last year in a well-attended forum where Councilman Lanza stood with his community to announce that he would oppose the site on Richmond Valley Road.

We just got word that the Staten Island Advance had this story on its front page yesterday as well. In the Advance piece the developer said that it terminated its lease because of ongoing problems with the environmental cleanup of the old Lucent site. As we had been told no one was excited about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a development that was unlikely to get a zoning approval.

This observation that the environmental remediation was a deal breaker was more or less confirmed by Wal-Mart when its spokesman told the Advance that, "The remediation program needed at the site has caused a change in the site's configuration to a point where it is no longer suitable for a Wal-Mart store." In addition, "There were also concerns about the time it would take Cedarwood {the developer} to make its way through the city's approval process-another uncertain route."

So, as we have been emphasizing, it becomes clear and clearer that any attempt to site the giant retailer in or around heavily congested residential area in NYC will end in failure as long as the site requires a zoning permit. The Crain's story underscores this point when it says that, "Retail brokers expect Wal-Mart to lease an 'as-of-right' location that would not need to be rezoned for commercial use."

The Tottenville victory came about through the united efforts of the Tottenville Civic Association, The Staten Island Taxpayers' Association, the UFCW, SI elected officials and the Alliance. It demonstrates what we have been saying all along about how communities with strong civic organizations and good ties to their elected officials, can successfully organize to stop the world's largest retailer.

Now we turn our full attention to the fight in Monsey, NY. We believe that the same traffic and quality of life issues that motivated Tottenville to oppose the Walmonster will have the same impact in Monsey. Our community meeting is scheduled for September 20th at the Spring Valley town hall.