Monday, January 5, 2009

Historians fight Wal-Mart for battle site - at what price development?

I found this story just now, but it posted yesterday on AOL.

It seems that the behemouth is going to build yet another super Wal-Mart and very close to some hallowed ground to boot.

"Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is under fire from historians and preservationists over plans to build a Supercenter in Virginia about a mile from the Civil War site of the first fight between opposing generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant." So reads the caption under the picture of one of the numerous civil war battles that accompanies the story.

Here is another excerpt from the story:

"Wal-Mart and its supporters point out that the 138,000-square-foot store would be right behind a bank and a small strip mall, a full mile from entrance to the site of the 1864 clash that left thousands dead and hastened the war's end.
Local leaders also want the $500,000 in tax revenue they estimate the big box store will generate for rural Orange County, a gradually growing area about 60 miles southwest of Washington.
"In these economic times, the fact that Wal-Mart wants to come into the county is an economic plus," said R. Mark Johnson, a tire shop owner and chairman of the county's bard of supervisors. "This is hardly pristine wilderness we're talking about."

$500,000 is hardly anything to sneeze at, particularly in these difficult times economically speaking, but there are ways to get a win-win for everyone. In this instance, Wal-Mart could locate a little further away - surely there is more land they could use - and maintain the integrity of this ground where historians say the first battle took place between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. I wonder whether Mark Johnson needs a history lesson - pristine wilderness notwithstanding. The ground in question was used as a staging area for troops and is hence deemed sacred or hallowed and appropriately so.

You know of my love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart and this is just one more reason why I do not like the retail giant - they tend not to want to play nice with their new neighbors - "let us develop or be damned" their attitude screams.

I am watching closely to see who will win the Wal-Mart/Tesco war - I hope that my fellow Brits will have more compassion when they begin building megastores in this country. Please don't prove me wrong.

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