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Chamber of Commerce Urges Open Mind on Wal-Mart Grocery Store

A coalition opposing the possible Assembly Square Wal-Mart has also been active.

At the moment, the is neither supporting nor opposing a , but in a statement, the organizations's president, Stephen Mackey, said, "It may be in the whole community's interest to hear the proposal before rushing to judgement."

Read Mackey's entire statement below.

Meanwhile, opponents of the possible Wal-Mart are continuing to share their concerns about the project with local businesses and residents.

On March 31, the , a collection of groups including Somerville Local First, and the , among others, went business-to-business door-knocking in Davis Square, Union Square and along Somerville and Highland avenues, according to Edwin Argueta, an organizer with Jobs with Justice, which is involved in the coalition.

Argueta said about 25 volunteers talked to residents and business owners in Somerville, asking them, "What does it mean to have a good job?" and arguing Wal-Mart needs to change its ways.

The coalition has concerns about the company's labor practices, health care policies, environmental record and effect on local businesses.

Argueta said the coalition has met with Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone about the group's concerns with Wal-Mart. As of November, Curtatone had not committed one way or the other on the issue. ."

Mackey said he's had "discussions" with Wal-Mart, but "we haven't seen the proposal" yet.

Wal-Mart has been eyeing the Assembly Square site formerly occupied by Circuit City, next to , but has not yet applied for permits to move into the storefront.

Mackey said there's "a lot of chatter going on, and we're hoping for the thing to be heard."

Somerville Patch received Mackey's statement not from the Somerville Chamber of Commerce, but from a public relations firm that works with Wal-Mart.

Asked what that might signify, Mackey said the Chamber put together an official statement because the Somerville Board of Aldermen requested more information. As for Wal-Mart, "They can use it as they please. It's the public statement of the Chamber," he said.

Below is Mackey's full statement:

The site has been dormant for years. The City should welcome an application for re-use. Walmart has not yet even applied for a permit. The concept is for a neighborhood market, not a supercenter. It would mean local jobs, food, and taxes. It may be in the whole community’s interest to hear the proposal before rushing to judgment.

The Chamber has always had an open policy to look at every proposal and what impact each proposal will have on the City. If others have proposals, by all means put them forward. Ninety new jobs, affordable healthy foods, and greatly discounted pharmacy are very attractive to residents. Clearly with the development of Assembly Square, the blossoming of East Somerville and Union Square as well as the continued development at the Innerbelt/Northpoint project, Somerville is the place to be and is open for business. We look forward to building Somerville's commercial tax base and working with the City to grow the Somerville job market to a 1 to 1 job ratio. When Walmart and others put in their application for permits, we along with the entire community should take each proposal and weigh the merits—impacts on job creation, residents, environment, and tax base—to make sound decisions in the best interest of our community.

More on Wal-Mart's possible plans in Somerville

kevin thomas crowley April 03, 2012 at 11:05 AM
i am ambivalent about the walmart food store. stop and shop, the only supermarket in east somerville, is easily the most expensive of the chain stores. we should wait to see what they have to say about salaries and health benefits in a somerville store. this month's consumer reports gives walmart food stores some of the lowest warks in a comparison to other food stores. check it out, it's fairly comprehensive. unfortunatey, shaws and stop and stop do not rank much higher than walmart. from what i read, their operation as a foodstore is as important as social issues in determining whether they are wanted here. it appears they fail in both areas.
Matt C April 03, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I would be far happier to see this at the empty site in winter hill where star market used to be. There is currently no good walk-able option in the area. You have Stop and Shop servicing E. Somerville, Market Basket in Union Sq., Stop & Shop for the Davis/Porter Sq., as well as other servicing Inman etc. It could be a great way to draw people into the neighborhood and into some of the local shops in Magoon and upper Broadway.
Kitty April 05, 2012 at 01:51 AM
If Walmart wanted to really serve Somerville residents they would take over the the old Star Market on Winter Hill. The location next to Home Depot is very inconvenient for most Somerville residents and not easily accessible by pedestrians and bicyclists. Walmart should be required to contract a reliable firm to do a traffic study to see how much car traffic will increase on East Somerville streets.
mplo June 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Wal*Mart Grocery Stores are reputed to be one of the worst food markets here in the United States as a whole. Also, their labor policies stink, and they're notorious for being among the worst, if not the worst of the worst when it comes to killing off other businesses, especially the independent, family-owned businesses. I'd just assume not have a Wal*Mart store of any kind here in Somerville. We don't need it here.

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