Friday, May 21, 2010

More Handwriting on the Wal-Mart

The rumored entry of Wal-Mart into Brooklyn is already generating a great deal of controversy. As the NY Daily News reports: “Sofi Rosenblun couldn't care less about Wal-mart's low-low prices. ”There's more to life than cheap underwear," said the 39 year-old Brooklynite Thursday. The retail giant has set its eyes on East New York's Gateway II mall as the site for the city's first Wal-mart. Although the plans are still in the early stages of development, the idea has already left some residents furious.”

And there’s a genuine concern over the fate of neighborhood small businesses: “Rosenblun said a newly constructed Wal-mart would drive out all other businesses and leave the neighborhood's residents with low-wage jobs, most likely at the controversial retailer.”

Of course, the nagging issue for the Walmonster is how they mistreat their workers: “Dozens of angry Brooklynites, lead by a nonprofit group, New York Communities for Change, rallied against Wal-mart's plans to become their newest neighbor Thursday in Starrett City.

Protestor Pat Boone, 59, of East New York said Wal-mart's low prices can be tempting, but they come with a price. "Everyone wants to save money these days," she said during the rally. "But not at the cost of supporting a place that mistreats its employees." Maria Maisonet, 50, of New York Communities for Change, expressed the same sentiments as Boone while adding her biggest problem with the store is its alleged underpayment of employees. "New York is already an expensive city," Maisonet said. "People with families can't live off those wages and [WAL-MART] knows that."

The controversy isn’t going to go away any time soon-as we have pointed out already. There’s the little issue of the state owned portion of the development that has yet to be conveyed to Related, the developer of Gateway Estates. There is a great deal of conversation occurring today that will be directed at using the conveyance issue-and the developer’s desire for a bargain on the sale price-as leverage to prevent the retail giant from encroaching on the East New York neighborhood.

Further discussions with city and state officials concern the possibility of holding oversight hearings on the conveyance issue- and the propriety of having Wal-Mart as a tenant in Gateway. But we’ll give one of the Wal-Mart protesters the last word: “The construction of New York's first Wal-mart has not been approved by the City Council and some Starrett City residents are working hard to keep it that way. "We're going to keep fighting to make sure that place doesn't destroy our home," Maisonet said.