Just the thought of a Wal-Mart supercenter was enough. Residents in the town of Winona, Wisconsin have started a website, launched a petition drive, and this week held a rally at the proposed Wal-Mart site, to help raise visibility for their cause. The new group, Winona First, says in their petition: “We, the undersigned, believe that another “super store” or “big box” retail establishment in what was supposed to have been the Riverbend Industrial Park, or anywhere else in Winona, will be directly at odds with Winona’s Comprehensive Plan, contrary to Winona’s Zoning Ordinance, and more importantly, destructive to the overall, long term welfare of our city. Therefore we call upon the Winona City Council to adopt either a moratorium on, or an outright maximum cap on retail establishments of over 100,000 sq. ft.” On their website, Winona First lists 9 reasons to oppose the Wal-Mart, including a net loss of jobs and taxes, the traffic gridlock, stormwater runoff pollution, the need for industrial development instead, and incompatibility with the city’s land use plan. “If standing here encourages one person to call one city council member, then it was a job well done,” one of the rally participants told the Winona Daily News. “I don’t mind paying a little extra on groceries if I know the money if going to benefit a community,” she added. Wal-Mart has reportedly made a deal with home improvement box Menard’s to purchase 20 acres in the Industrial Park. Residents object that public money was used to improve the land that Menards eventually occupied, and now part of that land is being used by Wal-Mart. “This is taxation without representation,” one resident noted.
For more background on Winona First, go to winonafirst.org. For more on the use of tax money to subsidize large retailers, search this database by “corporate welfare”.