According to a report in the July 23 Keene Sentinel, “vandals” attacked a Home Depot construction site this week, in just the latest incident in a record-setting 18 year battle against big developers and their Big Box tenants. The newspaper called this Home Depot “the most fought-over development in the city’s history.” The “vandals” poured sugar into the gas tanks of construction equipment and put epoxy cement into door locks, resulting in about $12,000 worth of damage, according to the police. They also found a sign on the site reading “No Home Depot” The project’s Connecticut=-based developer, the Konover company, is well known to readers of this website. Konover Development Vice President John M. Larson told the newspaper he was disgusted by the acts. “When working within the rules doesn’t work, this is what you see,” Larson said. An earth excavater and some welders were also damaged in the incident. The construction company’s spokesman said: “It’s obviously people who don’t want the Home Depot built. It’s a shame they have to pick on other people’s livelihood. It isn’t our decision what’s built there.” The 134,000-square-foot Home Depot store, slated to open next year, will anchor Monadnock Marketplace, a shopping complex that Konover hopes to expand in increments. For 18 years, Konover has waged a bitter war with local residents over the future of 64 acres of agricultural land on the edge of town. The site was originally proposed for a Wal-Mart, but that project never happened. Wal-Mart ended up going into an empty building in an existing mall in Keene.
Vandals, eco-terrorists, or freedom-fighters? “It’s obviously people who don’t want the Home Depot built.” That description probably fits hundreds of people in this small college town in Live Free or Die New Hampshire. Many area residents would rather live free of big box chain stores, but Konover and Home Depot used their considerable resources to out-last the opposition over the objections through many years. To quote the construction company spokesman, who could have been referring to Home Depot: “It’s a shame they have to pick on other people’s livlihood.” For more background on the Keene battle, search this database by “Keene”.