Wal-Mart already has a 120,000 s.f. store in Enid, Oklahoma. So it seemed somewhat redundant and greedy to some residents of this community when Wal-Mart announced it wanted to build a 204,000 s.f supercenter on 34 acres on the edge of the city. Local residents wrote us the following update on the battle. “The City administration is not taking a contrary position to the supercenter proposal, however, the City wants wal mart to pony up about $1 million in off site infrastructure improvements. Wal mart is of course fighting this with every tactic in its book. The “chosen” site is owned by Enid’s largest church, which stands to profit over a million dollars. and has over 3,000 members putting pressure on our city council and administration. Wal mart has indicated that it will develop a site in a neighboring small community — taking its “toys” with it. The City Council is concerned about loss of millions in sales tax revenue should Wal-Mart develop elsewhere. The prospect of Wal Mart going to an alternate site outside of Enid is absurd, if not simply impossible. But its threat is enough to scare the council into believing that it may happen.” According to the Enid News, local officials are worried about the impact another 20,000 cars will have on the capacity of existing roads.. “Traffic is a real issue on a development this size and on that tract,” said City Engineer Robert Hitt. Enid estimates it will cost nearly $2 million to fix the roads up to handle the Wal-Mart traffic, and they want Wal-Mart to pay for most of the upgrade. Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the world with estimated sales around $220 billion, is crying poverty to local officials. “They told us we are asking more than has ever been asked of them in this six-state region,” Enid City Manager Bill Gamble told the newspaper. “That’s not our intention, but to absorb a development of that size by ourselves, we will need help.” The Wal-Mart plan requires the city to rezone nearly 10 acres from residential and agricultural to commercial. Legally, that is its weakest point, because no developer has a right to rezoning. “It just won’t hold up under that traffic,” said the City Engineer. New turning lanes, traffic signals and repaving of roadways will have to be completed for this project. A Wal-Mart spokesman was reported as saying the city was being “unreasonable” with its request for the roadwork funding. In a classic case of playing the middle off the ends, Wal-Mart dropped a broad hint to reporters that if the city doesn’t become reasonable in its demands, Wal-Mart has other land it is looking at in Lahoma. Enid officials doubt the proposed store will move, but they may be afraid to call Wal-Mart’s bluff. Wal-Mart, in the interim, is asking people who shop at the existing Enid Wal-Mart, to sign a petition supporting a new store. “It’s a petition for our customers to sign to let the city council know how bad they want a supercenter in Enid,” the local Wal-Mart manager explained. The city says other retailers, like Lowe’s and Atwoods, have pitched in financially to make road improvements for their projects. Wal-Mart’s land, by the way, is in the middle of a wheat field.
It doesn’t seem as if anyone is talking on the record about what will happen to the existing Wal-Mart in Enid. Will it end up shut down as a result of this new supercenter? Hundreds of Wal-Mart stores across the nation have closed down within the shadow of a Wal-Mart supercenter. Wal-Mart wants the city to pay for the roadwork that will bring traffic to their doors. In essence, existing businesses, which pay their property and sale tax, are being asked to help underwrite the roads that will take traffic away from their stores . A strange way to invest public dollars: to weaken the existing merchant trade area in Enid. For more information on local opposition in Enid, contact [email protected]