Wednesday, October 24, 2001
If Wal-Mart really wants to be a good community partner they should seriously consider remodeling their existing store rather than deserting it. A large portion of their existing parking lot is primarily used for Winnebago and long-haul trucker camping, car dealer tent sales and go-kart rides. This non-parking part of their parking lot gives them ample room to expand the current store to accommodate the new services they want to provide as well as enhance the ambiance of their facility. With the close proximity of Safeway and the expansion of Rosauers it's hard for me to believe Wal-Mart intends to get into the grocery business, but it's a free country and their option to roll those dice. Of major concern is the future of their existing store. Do they feel any moral obligation to our community to find a new tenant or are they okay with another deserted big box? Anyone who has driven through Colorado and New Mexico has seen plenty of deserted Wal-Marts, many of them literally across the street or highway from their "new, improved" store. Nothing adds to the character and livability of a community like a 72,000 square foot roach motel.
I encourage Amy Miller to take this project back to Wal-Mart's corporate leadership to rethink their plan. If they are truly interested in what this community thinks and want their store to blend and complement Hood River they need to drop plans for 12 acres of parking lot. I'm also interested to hear how she imagines the desertion of a 72,000-square-foot building and the construction of a monstrosity two and a half times its size will not change anything in our community.