Now you see it, now you don’t. A prime piece of land Wal-Mart planned to purchase to construct a store in Saranac Lake was purchased out from under them, potentially lifting a great weight off the community. After losing a long battle in North Elba, NY, Wal-Mart moved next door to Saranac Lake, looking for available parcels. But one piece of their pie on Route 86 — 22 acres to be exact, was purchased recently by Ernest Keet for $850,000 — significantly more than the $133,400 assessed value of the land. The headline in The Enterprise read: “Land Sale Keeps Wal-Mart From Building on Route 86”. A friend of Keet says he bought the land “in order to protect and preserve Lake Colby.” The former property owner, Jim McCormick, was apparently pleased to be able to sell his land for a non-Wal-Mart use. “There will not be a Wal-Mart on it,” McCormic, said. “If I didn’t care about my neighbors and the community, I would have accepted (Wal-Mart’s offer). I didn’t grab the golden ring and run. I’m here for the duration.” McCormick added that “Wal-Mart is upset. They would have liked that site. There’s not many more places they can go.” A Wal-Mart spokesman denied that the company was upset by the land sale. McCormick noted that he did not want to be responsible for changing the area’s quality of life. “I love this community,” he said.”Why should I be the one to change the quality of living? Wal-Mart said that despite the sale, their desire to get into the community had not changed. “I don’t know how (the sale) could (affect Wal-Mart plans) said a spokesman. “Everything is still preliminary at this point.” The citizen’s group that had formed to block Wal-Mart, the Sound Adirondack Growth Alliance (SAGA) vowed to be vigilant to not only keep Wal-Mart out of Saranac Lake, but also to help out neighboring Tupper Lake, if Wal-Mart chooses to camp on to that community. “We’re in it for the long haul,” said SAGA member Jack Drury. For now, Ernie Keet has stopped Wal-Mart by taking away the one thing it needs in Saranac Lake: a place to land.
See similar stories below of communities like Yellow Springs, OH and Billerica, MA where citizens and local officials cooperated to buy up land rather than see it sprawled.