No WalMart at the Wilderness

Today, the news came that WalMart had decided not to build on the disputed spot on the Wilderness Battlefield. I am cautiously optimistic.

Back in May, 2009, I attended the hearing regarding the WalMart held by the County board of supervisors. I apparently didn’t blog about the meeting afterwards, for which I apologize. Two statements by citizens of the county really caught my attention.

One was from a gentleman who studied the history of the Battle of Wilderness; I believe he was a professional historian. The Board of Supervisors, WalMart, and their supporters repeatedly said that the site “wasn’t on the battlefield” – what they meant was that it wasn’t in the bounds of the state and national parks. According to the historian who spoke, the spot where the WalMart wanted to build was where units from the United States Colored Troops had been stationed, and nearby was where wounded soldiers had been taken for aid. Not active battlefield, to some people’s minds, but an important part of the landscape of the battle.

The other memorable points came from a former Law Enforcement Officer. He had lived and worked in a county much like Orange, which had seen the construction of a big box store, heralded as a bringer of jobs and income. What it brought, he said, was an increase in petty crime and thereby an increased need for police. He pointed out that there is only one jail in Orange County – in the city of Orange. There is only one road from the battlefield area to the county seat, a two-lane country road, and the drive from one to the other is about half an hour to 45 minutes (I speak from experience). He was concerned about the location and the potential negative drain on the county’s resources. Continue reading “No WalMart at the Wilderness”

County Planning Meeting – WalMart and Wilderness

Tonight, for better or worse, I am attending the Planning Commission meeting for Orange County, Va.* I have read the staff report regarding MalWart’s request for permission to build on the edge of the county, and the conditions for approval.

I do not want the WalMart in this county.  I object to it on social, historical, and political grounds. That said, I recognize that the historical preservationist argument has failed to convince the county residents who support the WalMart. Having read the staff report, here are the questions I want to have answered tonight:

  • Who is going to pay for the roads to be built? VDOT listed 8 actions which would need to be taken in order for the site not to create traffic problems. Where is this money going to come from?
  • Where is the money for extra law enforcement going to come from? Do we really think private security will be sufficient? The Walmart will be right on the border with Spotsylvania County.
  • How feasible is finding a solution to the water supply issue? Will the county allow them to build without the water there in case of a fire?
  • How is the County going to hold WalMart accountable to the recommendations in A1? Fine them? Slap them on the wrist? Or cause them to cease and desist? As far as I can tell, WalMart doens’t play by anyone’s rules but its own!

Also: the estimated economic impact of WalMart – jobs and money brought to the county – is from WalMart. What are external (non-biased) estimates?

I don’t know how long I will last in the meetings. I like discussing historical politics becuase it’s all gone – if the meeting gets too shouting and non-productive I may leave. I’m not willing to waste my time with people who only listen to themselves talk and do not actually engage in a real dialogue.

*Full disclosure: I don’t live in Orange County, I live in a nearby city. I work in Orange County, and very good friends of mien live near the propsed site.