Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Wal-Mart responds to concerns

We wish to address misconceptions and false statements that have been recently levied against our new store project in Atascadero and set the record straight.

Since first introducing our store to the Atascadero community, support for this new store has grown throughout the community. More than 5,700 area residents have expressed their support.

Supporters are telling us that in a time of considerable unemployment and in an economy that is forcing local governments to cut back on vital city services, we are proposing a project that can be a part of Atascadero’s economic solution. This opportunity will provide approximately 300 new jobs, increase sales and property taxes and bring additional products and services that Atascadero residents are asking for in their own town.

Some of the concerns we have heard center around how the traffic impacts of the Walmart store, the Annex shopping center and other future developments will be funded. The Environmental Impact Report recognizes that all of these developments will impact traffic.

Wal-Mart’s position is clear and has not changed: Wal-Mart, the Annex developer and the owners of the future development — not taxpayers — should pay for traffic improvements.

Wal-Mart has agreed from the very beginning to help pay for the measures required for its traffic impacts, as identified in the environmental documents. Wal-Mart is committed to paying its share of the costs for those measures, which is currently estimated to be around $1.7 million. In addition, it is important to note that by the time this project is completed, Wal-Mart will have paid almost $400,000 in fees and nearly $1 million dollars in property taxes.

Wal-Mart is ready to pay its fair share. If other participants are not ready to move forward, then the city should allow the Walmart project to move forward on its own.

Wal-Mart appreciates the hard work and hours put in by city staff, and we are confident that all steps have been taken to ensure the new store is a success. After five years of discussion, reports and elections, the community is excited and ready to welcome additional jobs, tax revenues and shopping opportunities to the community. Amelia Neufeld is senior manager of Walmart Public Affairs in Central California.