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Proposed Wal-Mart Brings Surge Of Citizens To Address Council

(Photo credit: steakpinball, via Flickr)

“To Rezone or not to rezone?” That is the question before Springfield City Council. On Monday night, community members packed the council meeting to make sure their voice would be heard. KSMU’s Shane Franklin has the story. 

Even the overflow rooms were packed Monday night to hear the more than 50 citizens who spoke for and against the rezoning plan to allow for the construction of a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. 

Some of the speakers, like local resident David Klotz, were there simply to support the continued development of downtown.

“We admire and want to encourage those business professionals who are demonstrating an investment to downtown. We want to keep the focus on the continued momentum of the restoration of downtown, to bolster the opportunities and bring it back to something that all the people of the city can be proud of, it’s not so much of an anti Wal-Mart as a pro downtown thing for us,” said Klotz.

Other speakers, like local family-man Nathan Anders, were at the meeting because he’s excited about the efficiency they think WalMart will bring to the neighborhood.

“This building will not only replace the existing structure with a better one, but will also house and offer affordable groceries items to an area of Springfield that can use every break we can get. This store will be close for us, so less money will be spent on gas. It also has the added bonus of less pollution, less vehicles, and better for our environment.”

While as Anders points out, this may cause less driving for certain people in the neighborhood, it will mean more traffic coming into the neighborhood. Some of that traffic will include large trucks resupplying the proposed store.  Heather Kennedy, another neighborhood resident, sees a problem with this.

“How are we going to protect the youngsters who cross Grand and Campbell on their way to and from school? The increase in traffic is detrimental enough. Don’t put our youth at further risk by expanding the problems that are facing downtown, into a residential neighborhood, my neighborhood,” Kennedy states.

Echoing Kennedy’s appeal for the health of the neighborhood was James Claire.

“It’s a moral imperative that City Council looks after the welfare and the wellbeing of its citizens. If that is not your duty, then I would ask what is? So I would say that if you can deny a hotel construction at 65 and Evans Road because of opposition by an affluent neighborhood, then it is hypocrisy to then allow a retailer into a neighborhood of lesser means.”

Tom Cedarbloom is the pastor at Calvary Temple Church, the church that would be sold to Wal-Mart to make room for the construction. Considering the affect the proposal will have on the future of his church, he too wanted to make sure his voice was heard.

“One year ago, when Wal-Mart approached our congregation about buying our property, we considered it then and we considered it now, an answer to our prayers. Our congregation voted 165 to 3 in favor of selling our property. It’s our hope as a church, that if this proposal goes through, we would relocate nearby, provide a facility that our neighbors can be proud of, and that will benefit our community, and we can continue to be the church that we believe that God has called us to be, here in the city of Springfield,” stated Cedarbloom.

According to the City Clerk’s Office, City Council should vote at their next meeting, on whether or not to rezone, allowing the construction of the Wal-Mart at Grand and Campbell. The meeting will be held on February 25th at 6:30pm.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.