“You don’t know what this means to me,” said Diane Eyler, one of the leaders of a group of Gilbert residents who have been waging war against a Wal-Mart planned for their neighborhood (see 1/16/99 newsflash below). “I can raise my kids in this neighborhood now. I can get my life back.” According to the Arizona Republic newspaper, “Wal-Mart is checking out of town — for now.” Wal-Mart’s lawyer confirmed this week that the company is scrapping its plans to build a supercenter at the cornere of Lindsay and Warner. The lawyer “stopped short of tying the decision to neighborhood opposition.” But a member of the Gilbert Town Council called Wal-Mart’s decision “a victory for the taxpaying citizens against the 900 pound gorilla.” There are currently at least 4 other Wal-Mart supercenters proposed for in the region, with raging battles going on in Mesa and Chandler, and Yuma,AZ. The Mayor of Gilbert said the Wal-Mart pull out means “a lot of tax dollars going bye-bye.” But this is the town where Wal-Mart got town officials to take a vow of silence about Wal-Mart coming, and the store threatened to withddraw if the public officials leaked the secret. So now Wal-Mart is going, bye-bye, and the residents of Gilbert are left with the same town officials who were willing to remain silent while Wal-Mart tried to line up its ducks. For now, Wal-Mart is no longer eating Gilbert, AZ.
If a public officials says Wal-Mart means a lot of tax dollars, perhaps the residents should wave their official bye-bye. Wal-Mart has never demonstrated in Gilbert or any other Arizona community that saturating an area with superstores is good for local taxpayers. Gilbert Town Councilor Phil Long was right: Wal-Mart’s departure is “a victory for the taxpaying citizens.”