Wal-mart has invaded Middletown, Delaware — and some local opponents understand the changes this superstore will bring, but they are not sure enough of their townspeople get the picture. Here’s their local report: “The most recent announcement, came on Friday, 1/4/02, concerning a new SuperCenter to be built in Middletown, Delware (pop. ~5000)and a new regional distribution center to be located in nearby Smyrna, DE. This announcement seemed to be kept from the public at large until just 3 days before the first town council meeting to be held on 1/7/02 to introduce the plans to the public. The distribution center project has more popular support since it is supposedly bringing approx. 1,000 jobs to an area than needs them. However, the Middletown supercenter is a different story. During the last year, several developers have attempted to purchase some farmland that was just outside of the town limits. The county (New Castle) would not grant the zoning variances, etc., so the developer approached the town of Middletown, which annexed the farms a few months later. There are two very nice single family home developments that border the farm (lot sizes in excess of 3/4 acre and lots of planned open space.) These communities are not in the city and have no apparent influence over the town council as they are not constituents of these elected officials. Some of the citizens of the town seem excited about the prospects of a “close to home” shopping outlet. Today, most residents of the are have to travel 20+ minutes to get to malls, Home Depot, etc. This site is technically on the “outskirts” of Middletown, and regretably in many folks’ back yards…country living would appear to be an endanged species in Delaware. It is uncertain what would happen if this decision was taken to referendum…I don’t know if we’d even be that fortunate. Some residents of the town seem relatively enamored with the idea and we’re not sure that there is critical mass here to truly impact the process.
Welcoming Wal-Mart to town is like inviting cannibals for brunch. People who want country living and cheap underwear will find that they can’t have it both ways. Very small towns like Middletown can easily become suburbanized, and — there’s goes the country! Most of the superstore “jobs” will come from existing merhcants’ who will shut down. For further information, or to offer help, contact the Middletown Citizens for Responsible Growth at [email protected], or [email protected]