New Group Formed to Address Possible Wal-Mart
It's not even known if a contract with Wal-Mart to locate a new SuperCenter in Napanoch has been signed and sent to Arkansas, but a group has already formed and started posting information online as if it were.
W-E-R-D - Wawarsing-Ellenville for Responsible Development - has been created to study how big box stores such as Wal-Mart can adversely affect communities such as ours, how other communities have dealt with the situation, and what lessons we can learn from them. Then, it will make sure the community is educated about these concerns, as well as offer available options, and, if necessary, will gear up to raise funds, hire experts, and pursue all legal means to make sure the community has a say in the matter.
Ellenville Village Trustee Steve Krulick, who recently announced formation of S.W.E.E.T. (Sustainable Wawarsing-Ellenville Economic Taskforce) as a group to promote pro-local economic development, decided to create a separate group to act as a focus for the Wal-Mart controversy, so as not to mire S.W.E.E.T. in a single, fractious issue.
"It was not my plan to be the one to organize this part of the equation," Krulick admitted. "I really wanted to deal only with the positive aspects of growing 'local living economies' through local ownership, financing, and production. I was hoping someone else - perhaps someone with a dog in this particular fight - would be the one to get things started. But time is short; I have already done much of the preliminary research and have the know-how, so I figured it might as well be me, at least for now. After setting up a website at www.w-e-r-d.org, and a new blog and listserv/forum, and shifting any Wal-Mart related material that may be on the S.W.E.E.T. sites to those, and letting everyone know it's up and running, I expect that other concerned citizens and businesspersons will take up the lion's share of the task."
In addition to several films that can be shown at local meetings or online, there are many pages of "big box tool kits" and studies that will be posted over the coming weeks. Several public meetings are being considered for early January, to include speakers who can address specific concerns of labor, the environment, sprawl, local development, and revenue impact.
"It is critical that the Town take pro-active steps now to strengthen its ability to base any approval of this new and unfamiliar type of megastore on more factors than are currently in the zoning code," warned Krulick. "Before it's too late to change its policy, after any applications are received, the Town Board should seriously consider an appropriate moratorium on accepting all applications - from between two to six months - during which time it can study the history of what happens when big box stores enter small communities, and consider enacting mandatory economic & community impact requirements for stores over a certain size, or even a size cap or ban, unless waived by all boards or public referendum. Without that knowledge and protection, our community could be at the mercy of any megacorp with deep pockets and the time to wear down all opposition. We may only have one brief chance to get it right."
For more information, web links, to stay in touch, go to either:
W-E-R-D Blog or
Think Local First!
Steven Krulick / SK@Krulick.Com
Ellenville NY / 12428-130727 / Earth
845-647-2868 / http://Krulick.Com