Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Letterman's Better (Part 1)

At the National Lentil Festival held in Pullman a couple of weekends ago, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development had a poster displayed at their booth listing "The Top 10 Reasons a Wal-Mart Supercenter Would Be Bad for Pullman." The list is almost as funny as the ones David Letterman routinely does on his show. I have attached a picture of the poster below.

Now for the list, and my fisking thereof:
1. Traffic will slow emergency access to the Pullman Regional Hospital
Bishop Boulevard was purposefully designed over 30 years ago for retail growth, specifically for "big-box" type stores and commercial development. The city of Pullman designed the road in cooperation with the developer who owned the property. So, the question is not so much why Wal-Mart is choosing to locate there but why the hospital was built there. I assume the city and the hospital board had their reasons (availability of land, close to the retirement center, etc.). So, therefore, I trust Mark Workman, the city planning director, when he said that, with mitigating measures that Wal-Mart has agreed to, traffic on Bishop will not be affected significantly.

My trust is also based on facts. According to the Palouse Economic Development Council's 2004 Regional Transportation Plan, the average daily traffic volume on Bishop Blvd. from the Village Centre theaters to South Grand Ave. is currently 8,600 vehicles per day. Wal-Mart is predicting that their store will add 11,700 trips, which will increase the volume on Bishop by the hospital to around 20,000 per day.

The traffic volume at the hospital's old location off Stadium Way is 16,800 cars per day. That's only 3,500 less than what is projected on Bishop with Wal-Mart. Funny, I never remember emergency access being an issue for the old hospital, which was right by the main entrance to a major university.

PARD would do well to compare the increased traffic on Bishop Blvd. to U.S. 12/Bridge Street in Clarkston, the site of big-box Costco. The level there is 19,000 cars per day. But of course, that can be forgiven, as Costco supported Don Barbieri's campaign.

Remember, what PARD chooses to call “traffic”, our local businesses call “customers.” Did you see the story in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News yesterday about the proposed Moscow-Pullman ring road? Think local merchants will be glad to have reduced traffic on city streets as travelers bypass the two towns? According to this paper commissioned by the WSU Department of Agricultural Economics, you need only ask the residents of Colfax and Rosalia to get the answer to that question.
2. Significant noise, air and light pollution will have negative effects on Bishop Place elders, asthmatics and children in the area
The landscape of Pullman is dominated by the presence of Washington State University on College Hill. The WSU campus has dozens of buildings and hundreds of street lights which are lit all night long and visible from most everywhere in town. In addition, thousands of cars park in the scores of campus parking lots and garages every day. WSU Parking Services added 558 parking spaces in FY2004 and 2005 projects alone. So, suddenly we add one more large building and parking lot and the delicate environmental balance is ruined for our elders, asthmatics and children? Balderdash.

Wal-Mart will use light-reducing fixtures on street lights in their parking lot to minimize glare. These are the same kind of street lights the city uses. Nothing else really needs to be said about this frivolous and ridiculous assertion.
3. Lower property values of homes nearby on Pioneer and Sunnyside Hill
Huh? What an outrageously unsupported allegation. Where did they get this data from? Can anyone imagine what could lower property values in the red-hot Pullman real estate market right now? Maybe the presence of evil pod-people from outer space, but I can't think of much else. If anything, homes in those areas will go up in value as more retail moves into the Bishop Blvd. corridor because of Wal-Mart. Remember, in real estate, it's all about location, location, location.
4. Traffic will lead shoppers to shortcut via Spring, Crestview, and other streets near Franklin Elementary and Lincoln Middle School children
Ah, the greatest scare tactic of them all, "My God, what about the children!" Too bad for PARD this is a completely bogus argument. Have they actually BEEN to those streets and schools? Franklin Elementary is at the end of a cul-de-sac, for Pete's sake. And the only cars that will be going past Lincoln are the residents that live on Pioneer Hill. For anyone else to use Spring and Crestview as a "shortcut" to Wal-Mart is too preposterous to even contemplate. If some of these PARDners had lived here for more than a year or two, they might realize that.
5. The 1,039 space parking lot, open all night, will become a crime magnet and a student party zone, driving up local policing costs
My side hurt from laughing after reading this one. That's right, guys and girls. Forget about Greek Row or Campus Commons North. The new party place in Pullman will be the Wal-Mart parking lot. Wooohooooo!!

Is this argument even for real? Are they serious?

Wal-Mart allows RVs to stay in their parking lots overnight for free. The practice is called "boondocking." Considering how many RVs we get in town, and our limited motel room capacity, for football games, Dad's Weekend, Mom's Weekend, graduation, etc., it will be a very welcome addition to many Coug Moms and Dads. Does anyone imagine these parents and relatives becoming a "crime problem?" This just demonstrates the elitist and snobbish attitude PARD members have towards Wal-Mart shoppers in general and RVers in particular.

My challenge to PARD members: Show me even ONE study by the Pullman Police Department that projects a Wal-Mart will drive up policing costs. Just the opposite will be true. Sales tax revenue generated by Wal-Mart will allow the city to fully fund our police department as the city's population grows.

(Continued tomorrow)

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