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Ballston Spa residents speak out against proposed Walmart
BALLSTON SPA -- Right now the empty plot of land near the intersection of Route 50 and 67 in Ballston Spa is in talks to become new Walmart store. The proposed store would be complete with a grocery store, deli, bakery, and drive through pharmacy. The project was shut down when it was proposed several years ago, but it has since been revised, 30 percent smaller, and with better access from both routes to smooth traffic flow. Now, it's up to the planning board whether or not this project gets the green light.
"The planning board can now approve this project without town board support as long as it stays within certain minimums, or certain maximum square footage," says Town Supervisor Patrick Ziegler.
Those in favor of bringing a Walmart to Ballston Spa say it's a great opportunity to create jobs, creating about 300 positions, many of those full-time and paying about 13 dollars an hour. But, if you drive down the main road in Ballston Spa, you'll see signs in protest.
"It's different than what you see in a lot of other communities where they have the big box stores, and people park in a parking lot and just go in and shop and they leave. Here, they come and they park and they dine, they eat, they shop, they buy, it's nice. It's different, and it's something we want to protect," says Michael Hannah, owner of Anna's Flower Shop.
Hannah like many is opposed to the new Walmart. CBRE was also the real estate company behind the Walmart in Halfmoon, which also saw opposition. They say the store actually helped boost revenue for small businesses in that area.
"Actually, the small businesses that sold goods and sold services that were not sold by Walmart actually did very well after Walmart went in because there was additional traffic in the area traffic in terms of consumers, and that only helped lift their businesses that sold specialty goods," says Tom Savino, an Associate Broker with CBRE.
But, Hannah says it's not the competition many small stores are worried about, it's the traffic.
"There is so much traffic now, and now they want to add more traffic, and there is just no where for it to go," he says.
Walmart issued to us this statement:
"We're hearing from many in the community that our store is both wanted and needed. Shoppers are looking for convenient and affordable grocery options, and the 300 new jobs our store will provide will be a welcome boost to the economy. We've reduced the size of our store in response to community input, we believe it has broad support, and we're looking forward to serving the needs of the Ballston Spa community."
Right now the planning board must give approval. If the project is approved, construction could begin this fall and the store would open next year.