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2007-06-22
Gresham, OR. Wal-Mart Finally Gives Up The Ghost

They're celebrating tonight in Gresham, Oregon. Residents who fought a Wal-Mart superstore are gathering tonight at a place called McMenamins Edgefield. "We'll gather under the water tower," said a note from Gresham First. "A wide variety of food and drink is available, and kids are welcome. Please bring your family, friends and neighbors to this community celebration! Yesterday's Oregonian newspaper explains the cause for celebration: Wal-Mart has announced that it will not appeal a ruling by a Hearing Officer in Gresham that cited unreconciled traffic problems with a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter. So there will be no Wal-Mart on 182nd Avenue. Thus ends a battle that Sprawl-Busters first wrote about on January 27, 2005, two and a half years ago. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said that Wal-Mart has chosen not appeal a recent rejection of the proposal by a city hearings officer. "While disappointed by the decision, a long protracted legal battle is not in anyone's best interests," Wal-Mart said in a news release. "Our obligation and our commitment to our customers is to find a site that works for them as well as for the city." Gresham hearings officer Joe Turner ruled that Wal-Mart's traffic study still did not resolve traffic problems near the site. The Oregonian quoted one activist as saying, "It's the outcome I wanted. It's the outcome that the majority of people that I have spoken to wanted, but deep in their hearts, they thought they didn't have a chance. I hope this gives courage to other neighborhood associations and to people who don't want something that doesn't fit in their neighborhood to stick with it and fight." Wal-Mart's first plan was for a 212,000 s.f. supercenter with two levels of underground parking. That project was rejected on traffic grounds in 2005. In 2006, Wal-Mart came back with a store about half that size, and offered to spend $2 million improving local roads and intersections. Wal-Mart purchased the land for $7.83 million after its first proposal was denied. Wal-Mart has not identified another potential store site in Gresham, but says it is still interested in the trade area. According to Gresham First, "This appears to be the end a two year battle between the retail giant and Gresham residents, who knew that the chosen site was truly incompatible for such a large development. Our concerns included the impact on existing traffic problems, nearby schools, water, air quality, noise pollution and pedestrian safety."

What you can do: In the midst of their celebrating, Gresham First is still looking to raise money to pay off their legal and traffic experts. "Many thanks are due to those who dedicated time, energy and money to this campaign," the group wrote. "Volunteer efforts helped to build community awareness and raise funds for professional assistance. We could not have achieved this outcome without the technical expertise of Rick Nys, David Bricklin, Ben Schonberger and Christine Cook. We hope you will agree that their services were worthwhile. Unfortunately, we still have outstanding bills with these valuable experts. Over the past two years, we've raised over $27,400 using a variety of methods, from selling yard-signs and bumper stickers, to bottle-drives and weekend rummage sale which filled a local gymnasium. While we had a few generous contributions from local business owners, the vast majority of funds came in the form of $10 and $20 dollar donations from neighbors. Currently our outstanding debt is $5,300. Please consider a donation to help cover expert services which were critical to our success. If each email contact donated just $10 we could pay these bills. How much was saving our neighborhood worth to you?" Readers around the country who want to help Gresham First, your check can be made payable to "Gresham First" and send to our mailbox at: 4233 SE 182nd #317, Gresham, Oregon 97030. "Gresham First is truly an incredible group of people," the email ends, "and together we are shaping the growth of our community. Your support made this success possible."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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