Walmart and Price Chopper Deals Symbolic of Bigger Problem
February 15, 2013
Several years ago, a close family friend drove home from Walmart in Lee’s Summit, parked in her garage and proceeded to unload her groceries. As she turned around, armed robbers came in with guns pointed at her and her family; which included her daughter and newborn grandchild. She filed a report and learned the men had followed her home from Walmart. The problem: Walmart’s cameras were so poor they couldn’t get a clear picture of the plate number or robbers that followed her out of the store.
Thursday, February 7th a large group of homeowners filled the room in opposition to the proposed Walmart project near Raintree. Armed with statistics on crime rate increases and property value decreases around Walmart developments, the grassroots group took their message to the council and the internet. Those supporting the measure argued that Walmart doesn’t attract crime. In the end, the “Say No to Walmart in Raintree” group narrowly swayed the council against the measure. However, the council reserved the right to bring up the Walmart measure in the future.
Across town, a week before, another neighborhood was steaming over a $20 million dollar giveaway to build a new Price Chopper in the backyards of Silkwood, two short minutes down from the existing Price Chopper. Again, the council was split but Mayor Rhoads cast the deciding vote to move the project forward.
Lee’s Summit residents are trying to send a strong message that these projects represent a larger problem facing our community. For some reason, half of our council simply doesn’t care.
Residents want to see their community progress, but they want it done classy, responsibly, creatively and respectfully. These projects fail this test on every level.
Residents are not against development. They are against this type of development. If we are going to add more grocery stores why not add upscale, unique stores such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, which are proven anchors that attract higher end economic development? We need not look any further than Ward Parkway Mall’s turn around or 119th Street in Overland Park to see their positive impact.
If we are going to spend millions on giveaways it should be on top quality restaurants, retail and stores unique to the area and region. Our town does not need more fast food, low end grocery or cheap dollar stores. Our precious development land and TIF dollars should not fall victim to strip malls filled with more banks, gas stations, insurance agencies, pay day loan shops and “We Buy Gold” stores. We have plenty, thanks.
Our community is at a crossroads. Lee’s Summit deserves better than the product displayed in projects like these. It’s time our leaders stop pretending high quality restaurants and stores won’t come to our town. Our city boasts one of the top school districts, income levels and property values in the state. If these businesses won’t come to Lee’s Summit, it is either because the people selling them on the concept are doing a poor job or they aren’t selling them at all? Either way, there is a problem.
Chris Moreno is a researcher, resident and graduate of Lee’s Summit schools. He writes for a national site for Dad’s, PlaygroundDad.com. Previously he served as Legislative Liaison under Governor Jay Nixon, on the Governor’s Transition Team and as Political Director for the Missouri Democratic Party. He has a Bachelor’s of Science from the Univ. of Central Missouri.