Friday, May 26, 2006

Wal Mart - Part 1

The following is a letter I submitted to the editor of the Moscow Pullman Daily News for publication. I had to speak up on what I believe to be a critical issue for the future of Pullman and Moscow:

Wal-Mart has dangled the tax revenue carrot in front of the City and it salivates – but tax revenues in this instance come at a heavy cost. The Pullman City Council’s motto boasts the "highest quality of life" but City staff seems to have forgotten that quality of life comes from more than the availability of cheap goods; it starts with basic planning and foresight. One can see examples of the lack of an effective planning code in Pullman without much effort – the monstrous church on Grand Avenue - its disproportionate size to the neighborhood is nearly laughable, if it weren't so unsightly; allowing a non-retail use of a former theater in the downtown retail core despite the pleadings of existing retail business owners in the area; the cookie-cutter housing developments at the city’s entrance; allowing people to donate land for a park and name it after themselves, and now, the proposal of a supersized Wal-Mart, with no recourse. It’s all very Pottersville.

It’s troubling that, despite the large number of residents opposed to the Wal-Mart, the City didn’t organize opportunities for formal input on the issue during the development of the project and no promise has been made to update City code to ensure that citizens have a voice in future projects.

As a former 25-year resident of Pullman, to some, my voice may seem irrelevant to this issue, but I care about the welfare of my home town. Pullman's residents should take action now to ensure that the City's codes provide for public review and input, and that they protect the aesthetic balance and quality of life that Pullman's residents expect. As it stands, Pullman's City Code gives corporations the power to transform the town however they choose- but it should be the residents who have the final say.

If you have concerns about the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman, please voice your concerns by writing a letter to the Editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News at They have a limit of 300 words and the final decision in Whitman County Superior Court is expected by June 22 - please get your letters in prior to that date.

Coming soon in Wal-Mart Part 2: Why Wal-Mart is not a good fit for Pullman - I can name at least 10 reasons off of the top of my head - can you? It's unfortunate that the perception of cheap products blinds people to the actual cost of a Wal-Mart on a town.