Residents in Chalmette, Louisiana are gathering troops to fight a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter. According to the Times Picayune newspaper, Wal-Mart wants to build a superstore on land next to the St. Bernard Parish government complex. Resident Linda Potts, a geologist, is focusing on protecting the cypress trees in neaighboring Torres Park. Here is Linda’s report: “Walmart is planning to build a new superstore in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, in the next year. Unfortunately there is a small cypress forest on the property that I would like to see saved. I am going around with a petition to see if I can get some support to save these trees perhaps as a buffer zone between the neighborhood and the new store. An official announcement of the store’s building has not been made yet.
The winter nesting sites of horned owls also will be destroyed if a new Super
Wal-Mart is built across from the St. Bernard Parish government complex. The horned owl nests in many of the cypress trees on the heavily wooded property which is part of the last remaining undeveloped land west of Paris Rd. in St. Bernard Parish. The Orleans Audubon Society has collected information on over eighty different bird species, including the bald eagle, that nest or migrate through the area. If a Super Wal-Mart is constructed on the site the noise, light and litter will discourage bird nesting and disturb migratory routes in the area. ” Chalmette already has a Wal-Mart on Judge Perez drive, and if the new superstore is built, that existing store could join the growing list of what Wal-Mart calls its “dark stores” . Louisiana already has 18 dark Wal-Marts, taking up 2.6 million square feet of dead space. Louisiana is tied with Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama for the fourth highest ranking of dead Wal-Marts. One-third (6) of Louisiana’s dark Wal-Marts have been dark for at least 3 years. Wal-Mart’s intent on the Chalmette land was made officials in early May, when the developer filed for a parking variance for a 190,000 s.f. Wal-Mart. The large, vacant grassy site is zoned commercial. Drainage and traffic flow are issues, and the project also needs Louisiana Department of Transportation agreement because the location lies along a state roadway. The Parish is under a 1978 agreement with the federal government after the area suffered major flooding in the early 1980s. But local officials seem convinced that this kind of development is financially attractive, even though the existing Wal-Mart, at 110,000 s.f. will be closed.
In Chalmette, it’s pretty much an open and shut case: open a Wal-Mart supercenter, close a Wal-Mart discount store. If this is economic progress, I’ll eat an owl-burger. This kind of mindless development seems to be appealing in Louisiana, as the state rises to the top of the Wal-Mart dark store list. For local contacts in Chalmette, contact [email protected]