It’s not exactly like inviting a clown to your next children’s party, but there are some similarities. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott has been invited to attend a kid’s Pajama Party in Pittsfield, Michigan, where the retailer faces a battle over its store location. The invitation was extended by Pittsfield Community First, which issued the following press release: “A lot of parents are losing sleep over the prospect of a Wal-Mart supercenter being built right across from the elementary and high schools so we decided to have some fun with it,” says Lisa Miller. Miller, mother of three, is a co-founder of a citizens group organized to fight the proposed Wal-Mart development in Pittsfield Township, Michigan. The grass roots citizens group, Pittsfield Community First, is planning a Pajama Party on Saturday, January 22 and Wal-Mart’s CEO, Lee Scott is first on the invitee list. Local children, many of whom attend the elementary school across from the proposed site, personally signed the invitation. The community group hopes Mr. Scott will come to their small town and view the proposed site first hand. “I would hope that after he sees the site and the proximity to the schools his conclusion would be that this is not the correct location for Wal-Mart,” said Lisa Bergman, member of the group and mother of two. “Putting a Wal-Mart in such close proximity to an elementary school is ludicrous.” The Pajama Party will be held at Harvest Elementary, the school closest to the proposed Wal-Mart site. “We’ve planned a fun, community event for families to chase away the winter blues, watch a cartoon, play games in the gym and write letters to Wal-Mart,” says an organizer. “We want to make sure Wal-Mart understands the impact this store will have on the
children of our community. A Wal-Mart at that location puts kids at an unacceptable level of risk,” says Lisa Miller. Heather Healy, a member of the group says she would tell Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to find another site that has the infrastructure to support a store of that size. Her children have also taken action by writing letters to the township’s planning commission and donating their allowances to the cause. Asked if she thinks Mr. Scott will show up, Lisa Bergman, mother of two was not hopeful. “It doesn’t seem like Wal-Mart cares about the concerns of our community,” she said. But if he does show she is prepared, “I’d ask him, heart to heart, business aside, if he had a child going to Harvest Elementary, would he think a supercenter going in next door is a good idea?” The proposed Wal-Mart entrance is designed to connect to the elementary and high school’s entrance on Campus Parkway. Because the site is located at an intersection of two already over-burdened two lane roads (Michigan Avenue and State Road) many community members site traffic and safety problems as a reason to turn down the proposal. Pittsfield Community First has successfully lobbied county officials to get an updated traffic study. The Washtenaw County Road Commission has agreed to perform an independent traffic study of the proposed Wal-Mart state to include input from the public. Traffic on Michigan Avenue received an “F” rating by MDOT and plans to widen the two-lane road has been delayed for at least ten years. Besides the increased traffic, Eric Head, father of three sited a concern over Wal-Mart’s record of selling tobacco to minors. “We asked Wal-Mart if the store plans to operate 24/7, if they will have parking lot security, if they will sell tobacco, firearms and alcohol but have not gotten any response.” Miller added, “These are legitimate concerns given the proposed location is across the street from three schools attended by over 2,500 students.” They have yet to receive a response from Wal-Mart regarding their concerns. In addition to the Wal-Mart executives, local, county and state officials
who have helped the grass roots group get their concerns addressed have also been invited. Party planners are waiting to hear back from Governor Granholm among other invitees.” The group has indicated that Mr. Scott does not have to come in his P.J.s.
In case other Wal-Mart officials wish to attend, the Pajama Party is planned for Saturday, January 22 at Harvest Elementary School from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas and bring a favorite stuffed animal. This event is free. Soon Pittsfield Community First members will be focusing their attention toward the very important Pittsfield Township Planning commission meeting on February 3. The Washtenaw County Road Commission, MDOT, Pittsfield Planning Commission, Pittsfield Community First and concerned citizens will discuss and address the need for a new traffic study for the areas of impact surrounding the proposed Wal-Mart site. The attendance turnout at this meeting should exceed last November’s Planning Commission meeting where 110 area residents expressed their concerns. Pittsfield Community First is a grass roots citizens group of over 300 Pittsfield Township, Saline and Ann Arbor Area residents joining forces to stop the proposed Wal-Mart on Michigan Ave. and State. The group has organized phone call and letter writing campaigns to government officials, and appeared at township and county meetings. To join the group and receive bulletins on how you can help oppose the Wal-Mart, email your name, address and phone number to: [email protected] or visit their website at www.pittsfieldfirst.org.