Does your town need a new firestation — but can’t find the money to pay for it? Here’s an angle that local officials are sure to love. In Pompano Beach, Florida, Wal-Mart has offered to pay for the construction costs for a $3 million fire station. But there’s a catch. In return, they want permission to lease the land where the current fire station now stands. The idea sits fine with city officials, who wanted to tear down the old station on Third Street anyway, and build a “more modern” station a few hundred feet away. And since the city is in a mood to tear things down, Wal-Mart figures they won’t care if the retailer also tears down its existing discount store on Copans Road, and moves to the 179,000 s.f. supercenter where the old fire station was. The city manager told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “We’re clearly very happy to have an opportunity to get a new fire station at no cost to the taxpayer. It’s something that would serve us for many years.” The commissioners will vote on this fire house switch in late February. The Fire Chief wants them to move the deal forward, too. If they do, the city will have its second Wal-Mart supercenter. The only one who hasn’t climbed on board this fire sale is the Mayor of Pompano Beach. Mayor John Rayson told the newspaper “he’s not thrilled” about having another Wal-Mart supercenter — but with a new fire station thrown in — “At this point there are a lot of benefits to the city,” he said. The head of a local homeowners association is excited too. He admitted that some neighbors may be concerned by the traffic generated by a new Wal-Mart, but he’s glad to see growth in the area.
Where’s the fire? Is Pompano Beach for sale to anyone who buys them a fire station? As Mayor Rayson pointed out, the city needs new fire stations in the Highlands and Cresthaven neighborhoods too. Maybe they can bring in a Target and a Home Depot to replace those fire stations? Or possibly an IKEA to help them build a new city hall? The message from local officials is: name your price: everthing you see is for sale. The Mayor of Pompano Beach seems to be the only elected official who realizes that the city doesn’t need another Wal-Mart supercenter in the first place, which makes the rest of the deal absurd. The city gets an empty lot where the “old” Wal-Mart used to be. This deal gives new meaning to the term”fire sale.”