Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 5:32PM
What’s wrong with Wal-Mart?
By Sara Freetly-Grubb
As a District 1 resident, I am disappointed with the decision to delay the Wal-Mart development in an area of town that is starving for it. I recognize that Wal-Mart is not exactly the type of development this community should focus on attracting — but retail is a necessary service for the community — particularly in that part of town.
Although Wal-Mart will not bring high paying, quality jobs — I’m pretty sure it also won’t bring with it a massive crime wave. It likely will not draw people from outside of our community in…and so what if it does? Are we so safely tucked into the bubble of Lee’s Summit that folks from surrounding communities like Greenwood, Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville and Grandview are so undesirable?
Do I love Wal-Mart? No. In fact, I don’t currently shop at the Wal-Mart in northern Lee’s Summit because I live so far south. If I did, I would drive right down 150 to the store at 135th and State Line where Kansas City benefits, while supporting their TIF. Surely a community of 90,000-plus can support more than one Wal-Mart. We support three (soon to be four) Price Choppers.
Am I concerned about my property value declining because there is a new retail choice available to homeowners in the area? Absolutely not. There is dirt turning on at least three lots in my subdivision and I doubt Wal-Mart located more than a mile away is going to deter anyone from buying those homes. Quite the contrary. More retail, more services and more development give us more options close to home and make this area more desirable. If Wal-Mart were in my backyard, I might feel differently, but I’m confident nobody in Raintree or South Lee’s Summit will actually share a yard with the store.
Is there some concern about traffic and if the infrastructure can handle development? Sure there is. The infrastructure in that part of town (and other areas of Lee’s Summit) is rudimentary. Unfortunately, the city could have never planned for the type of infrastructure necessary to accommodate today’s population. Fortunately, traffic in South Lee’s Summit has improved substantially since the expansion of 150. Now if only the folks who drive down there could understand how flashing arrows and traffic lights work.
Is the issue at hand really about property value, crime and traffic or is it actually about a handful of residents in South Lee’s Summit thinking that Wal-Mart is beneath them?
Tim Kirkpatrick, a leader of South Lee’s Summit Citizens for Responsible Development which formed to oppose the project, said the group is not against development or a Wal-Mart store, if it is in the right location. But not at 3410 S.W. Market Street.
“We don’t want Wal-Mart, not that we want any big box store, we want our little piece of paradise,” Kirkpatrick said in an interview.
Where is the right location? Greenwood? I wonder what their “piece of paradise” looks like? Are they holding out hope for Niemann Marcus? I’m afraid Lee’s Summit’s demographic doesn’t support that kind of retail. Maybe they should read the full branding/research report the city recently paid nearly $100,000 for that says Lee’s Summit residents shop at Publix and eat Fudruckers. Is this group just happy to see large parcels of undeveloped land in their utopia? If that’s the case they should drive up and down Ward Road and enjoy the property owned by Community of Christ and let someone develop something useful on the limited land that is available in this city.
Either way, I’d like to stop cringing when I hear reports that paint Lee’s Summit as a simple, small town that is anything but progressive. Not all residents in south Lee’s Summit oppose Wal-Mart at 3410 SW Market Street. Hopefully I’m not the only one who didn’t move to Lee’s Summit seeking “paradise.” I find that in the Caribbean. At home in Lee’s Summit I’m thankful for the modern conveniences that save time and make life easier.