Another Wal-Mart supercenter bites the dust — literally. Wal-Mart’s dreams of a superstore for Kilbuck township, Pennsylvania, are now officially buried under tons of earth. On September 20, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that two rockslides had shut down further work on a Wal-Mart supercenter in Kilbuck township, Pennsylvania. The landslide, which took place September 19, 2006, dumped 500,000 cubic yards of earth, closed Route 65 for nearly two weeks and shut down all three main line east-west tracks of the Norfolk Southern Railway for several days. Now, just over one year later, Wal-Mart has given up all hopes of digging out from this environmental and public relations disaster. In a press release dated today, Wal-Mart stores announced that “it will not develop property in Kilbuck Township, Allegheny County. Wal-Mart’s plan will return the hillside to a pre-development, natural sloping condition that includes trees and vegetation.”According to the press release, the company met yesterday with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to discuss the submission of a revised “stabilization” plan. The revised stabilization plan addressed many concerns that the DEP and elected officials shared, Wal-Mart said. The retailer has given the state an updated stabilization plan, indicating that Wal-Mart “had not considered or discussed development options for the site but maintained that site stability was the primary and immediate concern.” The company added, “After listening to concerns stated during the July 25 public meeting, Wal-Mart felt the attention would continue to focus on possible plans for the site, rather than the targeted goal of permanent stabilization. Therefore, a major revision to the original stabilization plan was believed to be the best way to demonstrate Wal-Mart’s commitment to site stabilization.” To show that the environment was their main concern, Wal-Mart said it would continue to work with state officials to address any additional concerns or comments as a result of their revised plan. “Wal-Mart remains committed to being a good neighbor in Kilbuck Township.” Kilbuck is now permanently stabilized — because Wal-Mart is gone.
The citizens group Communities First, which opposed this superstore project from day one, and warned that a landslide could happen at the site, is delighted that if Wal-Mart is going to be a good neighbor, it won’t be in Kilbuck. The company said in its press release, “Wal-Mart recognizes that many of our supporters in Kilbuck Township and surrounding communities will be disappointed. Thank you for all your support throughout some very difficult times… Wal-Mart continues to explore other opportunities for growth throughout the greater Pittsburgh area.” Communities First helped to bury this plan with a landslide of information and very visible public resistance. The group mobilized local residents to speak out against this plan. Their efforts, plus some assistance from Mother Nature, helped to slide another Wal-Mart superstore off the map. Sprawl-Busters began writing about Kilbuck in the fall of 2002. Wal-Mart’s withdrawal today is the official end of a 5 year battle by Kilbuck residents. After the landslide, Communities First is the last one standing. For local contacts in Kilbuck, email [email protected]