Friday, June 16, 2006

EXCELLENT New Website!


It's the brand new website of the Save Saranac Lake Coalition, a group of area residents that want to preserve the unique character of the Village of Saranac Lake. Please visit their website and click on 'About Us'. There you will find a good summary of the story thus far concerning Wal-Mart and SL.

The pictures of our beautiful town are some of the best I've ever seen!

Saranac Lake is Not Dying

Saranac Lake may lack a large retail department store but it is not dying as many pro-WalMarter's claim. Two recent examples:

New retail space is being proposed to be built across from the train station on Depot Street. The building site is pictured above and was one of the proposed locations for a smaller, downtown Wal-Mart or other department store. Maybe the new retail space would be good for a community department store. Would it be a Wal-Mart? No. But it might be big enough to supply the necessities that many claim are difficult to find. Story here at WNBZ.

In other news, the American Management Association wants the village to consider annexing the old Trudeau Sanitorium property which is currently owned by the Association. The property is currently not on the tax rolls as it is a non-profit, educational organization. In return, the AMA would offer for sale several buildings which would then be placed back on the tax rolls.

Finally, some pro-WalMart supporters often claim there are many closed store fronts in downtown Saranac Lake. Where exactly are they?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Intelligent Letter

Yet another intelligent Letter to the ADE Editor that begs to be preserved longer than 2 weeks. The letter makes several important points:

1) New Village board members were fairly elected and board decisions have been based on reason and facts
2) Some disaffected area residents are acting immaturely
3) Individuals of all income levels, natives and 'transplants' may be for or opposed to a huge Wal-Mart located on Lake Flower Ave.
4) Wal-Mart is not the only solution to Village retail development
5) Wal-Mart does not care about you or me or our Village
6) We should be able to all work together, CARD included

The new village board was elected fair and square. Contrary to what some say, decisions that the board has made thus far are based on fact and reason, not on emotion or conspiracies.

It’s disappointing to read baseless accusations against our democratically elected officials and to hear fourth-grade-level nonsense on local radio. At least one new board member has received rude e-mails as well as a couple of vulgar “salutes” out on the streets of our town. This juvenile behavior will not make anyone’s life better and certainly doesn’t help the cause of these disgruntled individuals.

There is a perception among Wal-Mart supporters that “wealthy transplants” are coming in and “telling natives how to run things” or that “the rich are walking all over the poor.” This is short-sighted and uninformed. In fact, folks on both sides of the issue are natives and non-natives, pro-APA and anti-APA, full-time and part-time residents, professional and blue-collar, old and young, and people of all income levels.

The “native vs. non-native” labeling is arbitrary. What does “native” mean? Born inside the Blue Line? Born within village boundaries? Does a native resident of Paul Smiths, Vermontville or even Old Forge have more right to an opinion than a “transplant” who has lived in Saranac Lake for 10 years? What counts is what you bring and give to your community. What do you do to make Saranac Lake a flourishing and welcoming place to live?

There are many possible solutions to the retail problem, not just one. We have a chance to work together to bring in a store that will serve our needs while preserving our small-town character. How can anyone be against that? Discontented Wal-Mart supporters say they will now boycott Saranac Lake businesses, but if they already don’t shop here, what exactly will they boycott, and how does that help their town?

Here is a fact. Hundreds of towns across America are launching campaigns to keep Wal-Mart out of their communities. Why is that? Talk about a wealthy non-native coming in and running things. Five members of the Walton family are worth more than $18 billion each. Why can’t they afford to pay all of their workers a salary above the poverty line with full benefits (while they grieve their taxes, pollute and kill all the competition)? Do you honestly think they give a rat’s behind about you?

After the vote to stop the rezoning process, certain members of CARD said they would have no part of the cooperative effort to bring in a suitable retailer. That’s unfortunate. I understood CARD to be Citizens’ Advancement for Retail Development. If that’s the case, I hope to see them at the public forum on June 22, where we’ll look at better ways to advance retail development. If not, they should consider changing their name to Citizens’ Advancement for a 121,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, if that’s the only thing they actually support. I hope it’s the former.

Annette Scheuer

Saranac Lake

From the Bentonville WalMartian Today

Cogent ADE Poll Comments

Some comments posted in response to ADE poll question "Is Wal-Mart blocked from coming to Saranac Lake now that the village board has halted the rezoning process for its sand lot, on which Wal-Mart wants to build"?

No, they are not blocked. This is just a beautiful example of their corporate bullying tactics. It is a poorly-veiled attempt to evoke emotion. If they are not willing to allow the proper impact studies to be carried out, they are sending a clear message as to the manner in which they intend to become part of this community. They are behaving like foot-stomping four-year-olds, "its my ball and I'm not playing". We should not support Wal-Mart with reckless abandon; lets do this on our terms.

I don't know as anyone takes those extremist comments too seriously - they come from a very small minority of very noisy "commentators". A vast majority of this community wants to move ahead retail shopping options in finding something that fits in - a size we can live with that offers prices that those on the lower end of the economic scale can afford. I think there is about 10% of TOTT listeners that take those comments seriously and the other 90% listens for entertainment. The same with these web polls although there seems to be a larger number of rational contributors to these web polls than on TOTT Take heart - most of the community is interested in taking positive steps forward - let's keep our eye on the prize and don't let the minority extremists get you down... or distract you!

No matter how you feel about WaMart, Saranac Lake is lucky to have a Village Board that is willing to take a hard look at the facts, take public input and opinion into account, and make a very tough decision. Right on, Village Board!

It's too bad this Wal-Mart business has devolved into a dispute between 'poor natives' and 'wealthy transplants'. Where is the evidence that wealthy transplants are responsible for all the problems in Saranac Lake? Where is the evidence that the majority of people who voted for the new mayor and trustees are 'wealth transplants'? There is an honest difference of opinion on Wal-Mart. Why can't we try to solve the retail store problem instead of trying to assign blame for WM being put on hold?

I'm a 3rd generation native, own a home and work in the village and am definitely not wealthy. That being said, I voted for the new town board members and mayor and am very proud of them for standing up to Walmart's bullying tactics. I have to wonder how many of the people doing all the complaining about the board actually bothered to vote. Seems the other guys would have won in a landslide if 80% of the town really is pro-walmart. Most people I know say department store yes, but no supercenter!

Please, once and for all, open your eyes and ears: NO ONE IS AGAINST A RETAIL STORE. WE ARE AGAINST WAL-MART FOR THE SAME REASONS THAT HUNDREDS OF OTHER AMERICAN TOWNS ARE. We are in favor of free enterprise. We want a store that will serve the community. We are AGAINST having this town ruined by an unscrupulous, gluttonous corporation that will eat us alive and then spit us out. GOT IT? Second, people on BOTH sides of this issue are native and non-native. Most people in SL came from elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More on the BillBoard Incident

Remember the June 2 post about the billboard in Bentonville, Arkansas that was up for less than one day? Read more Here.

This is interesting:

Not everyone in town is a cheerleader for the company. Some argue that its dominance may cause some people to keep quiet about misgivings about the retailer. Suburban sprawl, crowded schools, rising real estate costs and the loss of small-town culture are among the topics that generate grumbling.

New ADE Wal-Mart Poll Question

A stimulating new discussion concerning the latest ADE Poll Question.

Is Wal-Mart blocked from coming to Saranac Lake now that the village board has halted the rezoning process for its sand lot, on which Wal-Mart wants to build?

Find the discussion (as it were) here. The blame game continues and it's pretty certain all the rich, transplants are going to get their comeupance for 'chasing' Wal-Mart out of town.

Wal-Mart has options to purchase two large, commercially zoned parcels of property and could probably easily purchase the McDonald's. So what is stopping Wal-Mart from proceeding with their plans? Wal-Mart wants a 121,000 sq ft superstore and nothing less. If they can't have what they want, they will walk away.

Wal-Mart sure knows how to show their supporters how much they care about them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Answer to Wal-Marts Mailing

Opinion column published in todays Adirondack Daily Enterprise below.

Unsolicited mail

By Gloria Volz and Doug Haney, Save Saranac Lake Coalition

How many Adirondack residents enjoy hiking up Saranac Lake’s Mount Baker?

For such a brief walk, the views of the village of Saranac Lake, Lake Flower, the High Peaks and the Saranac Lakes chain are unparalleled. For some, it’s a morning walk with the dog, a lunchtime retreat from work or an evening out with family. Locals take it for granted, and yet each time, the view is new, refreshing and reminds us of why we live in this beautifully unspoiled mountain community.

Many Saranac Lake residents recently received an unsolicited piece of mail from the Wal-Mart corporation. Both the front and back cover display was an early fall photograph of Mount Baker with the Saranac River slowly meandering in the foreground. The photo is quiet, peaceful and above all, naturally perfect.

Upon opening the mailing, one is faced with an artistic rendering of the proposed 121,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. The elongated brown sketch unemotionally sprawls across a bifold page without representation of a parking lot or any indication of McKenzie Mountain, Moose Mountain or Mount Baker, which are normally clearly visible behind the proposed site.

The caption reads “Wal-Mart: A store designed to fit Saranac Lake.”

The piece then goes on to state that the structure will be “designed with your community in mind” and delivers four bullet points touting job creation, revenue generation of sales tax and local property taxes, “an additional local shopping choice” and also that the store will be “in keeping with the distinct character of Saranac Lake.”

Point: The average pay for a Wal-Mart sales associate is $1,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Business as usual? Not necessarily. Retail rival Costco pays its workers 65 percent more on average than Wal-Mart, yet earns more profits per employee. According to a study performed by the University of Missouri, Wal-Mart boosts retail employment by 100 jobs in the first year, far less than the 200 promised due to the downsizing and layoffs of existing retailers that struggle to compete. Over the next four years, there is a loss of 40 to 60 more retail jobs as new area business becomes stagnant.

Point: Wal-Mart fails to mention the loss in taxes that will come from local businesses being forced to shut down. It also fails to mention the additional cost to our communities for extra services and infrastructure maintenance, which the village must provide for such a commercial addition.

Point: The only Wal-Mart in the Adirondacks is in Ticonderoga. When that 111,000-square-foot store was proposed in 1997, the company said it would not seek a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes), but it later applied for and received a 10-year PILOT agreement.

Point: At 121,000 square feet, the store would be larger than the three biggest retail locations in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake combined before adding the more than 600 parking spaces that would be required to support a retail location of this size. In comparison, a football field is 57,600 square feet; therefore, the proposed Saranac Lake Wal-Mart would be larger than four football fields, including a parking lot illuminated 24 hours a day.

If Wal-Mart truly wished to build a “Supercenter designed with your community in mind,” it would have asked for your input before dropping a postcard of the store in your mailbox.

Once the view is changed, it is changed forever.

If you’d like to support positive growth for the village of Saranac Lake and the continued health of our All-America City, contact the Save Saranac Lake Coalition by e-mailing or via post: P.O. Box 643, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

The SSLC would like to commend our elected officials for making a decision that will ensure a healthy future for Saranac Lake. They haven’t locked the door on retail development; they’ve simply given the village of Saranac Lake the key.

This letter was a collaborative effort by the steering committee of the Save Saranac Lake Coalition. Gloria Volz lives in Lake Clear, and Doug Haney lives in Saranac Lake.

Documentation for the 4 points made in the above column can be found on this blog.