Walmart must agree to do more for city
To the editor:
Walmart should and can do more for the community. Doing business here is a privilege and not a right.
Walmart wants to expand by building a superstore in Pittsfield. That is because the company knows that it can make more money for their company. And that is good. Of course, such a project would have both positive and negative effects on the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.
I attended a presentation last Tuesday night by the builder and Walmart supporting their proposal and trying to create good-will. There were many questions and comments showing that Walmart has a negative image and that this is well-deserved. There were a few comments about the benefit of having Walmart. The gentlemen who made the presentation seemed sincerely over-optimistic, but the presenters did convince me that a new store on the proposed location would do more good than harm.
Allowing Walmart to build a new store has the benefit that it will clean up 16 acres of contaminated land in the business park. It will provide new jobs and convenience for some shoppers. It will pay about $500,000 per year in property taxes. The project does have value and should not be killed.
Crane & Company is an example of a good local business that gives back to the community. On top of paying property taxes, it has developed and devoted land for the public benefit. Pittsfield citizens also work for the community by volunteering, keeping our neighborhoods beautiful with plants and flowers, and showing up at Third Thursday and other events. Walmart's history here shows no interest in doing anything extra for the community. There is room for Walmart to do more.
The proposed site has abundant possibilities for development. Walmart would use only 16 of the more than 50 available acres. A small park, a playground and an area for dogs are within Walmart's ability to build, and would be an investment in the community. The Berkshire Mall supplied, and maintains, a police car for Lanesborough because the police patrol there and are called out for shoplifting incidents and emergencies.
We know from hard experience that nothing lasts forever. Now is the time for the public and our elected representatives to require that Walmart do something more for the community.
Walmart has the privilege, not the right, to make profits. We have the right to demand that it contribute to Pittsfield. It is naïve to think that the Walmart corporation cannot afford such an investment in our community.
Gregory Wolf, Pittsfield