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Monday, October 04, 2004

Wal-Mart in the Park

The amount of local government energy (read “taxpayer money”) that is spent trying to accommodate the world’s richest corporation astounds me.

The latest is in the City of Gainesville. Wal-Mart, having twice been denied approval to build a supercenter on an environmentally sensitive parcel on the southwest corner of US Highway 441 and Northwest 53rd Avenue, now wants to trade that parcel with the city in exchange for Northside Park.

This is an idea that the Gainesville City Commission should immediately dismiss. The city already lacks public park space, and Northside Park is a wonderful asset that has tennis and racquetball courts, a pavilion, and the only public disc golf course in the area. The park is frequently used by many citizens, and the Northwest 53rd Avenue site would be a poor replacement.

Wal-Mart makes more profit in two weeks than the City of Gainesville spends in an entire year. If the company wants to build a supercenter, all it has to do is chose a site that fits the city's growth management plans and zoning regulations and then go through the process like anyone else.

When the city denied Wal-Mart the right to build on the Northwest 53rd Avenue site, it was after lengthy deliberations. The denial was made for good reasons, namely that the site is the headwaters for Hogtown Creek, and the stormwater runoff from a large parking lot full of cars would damage the creek.

Denying a company or individual the ability to build on a particular site is no reason to give up a city park. Northside is a wonderful park.

Wal-Mart can find plenty of places to build a supercenter that will fit either the city or county's regulations.

Please contact the City Commission and ask them to drop this bad idea.

CityComm@ci.gainesville.fl.us

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