Daily Archives: July 22, 2010

Dueling Wilderness letters

While visiting a link for another news story I ran across a pair of letters to the editor of Fredericksburg’s paper regarding the continuing Wilderness Walmart debate.

About a week ago came this missive from a Wal-Mart supporter: “I’d like the outsiders and so-called preservationists with money who are controlling what goes on with the Walmart-Wilderness situation [Right, sister—historic preservation groups have Fredericksburg firmly in their iron grip] to stop trying to push their weight around.”

Walmart—champion of the little guy and bastion of local interests.

She also complained that congested traffic makes it hard for her to get out and shop, as if a new superstore isn’t going to add to that problem rather than alleviate it.

So this week somebody called her out.  “Ms. Gatto writes about ‘outsiders.’  Walmart is made up of outsiders. Rob Walton, Walmart chairman, was born in Oklahoma and lives in Arkansas. CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright was born and raised in Ecuador. They are the ones doing the pushing. We are just pushing back.” 

Madam, you’ve just been served.

One other thing about that first letter that irritated me was this inane statement: “If you really want to get technical, Lake of the Woods and the strip malls are all built near battlefield ground, and people don’t seem to mind.” 

This argument (if you want to dignify it by calling it an argument) pops up with distressing frequency in anti-preservation rhetoric.  Some developer comes along and builds near historic ground, despite protests from preservationists.  Then later developers and their short-sighted supporters use the blight that’s already there as an excuse to build more, more, more.  It’s like telling somebody that they might as well take up smoking because they’ve already got respiratory problems.

If the writer is so concerned about outsiders meddling in community affairs, then she needs to take a look at the research that’s been conducted into the impact of chain stores on local businesses and payrolls.  Then she can ask herself if she’s really on the right side of this one.

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Filed under Civil War, Historic Preservation