116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - It still may be little more than a concept on paper. But the possibility of a fourth Wal-Mart supercenter in southeast Cedar Rapids is generating lots of comments directed at local politicians. In fact, several members of the Cedar Rapids City Council said it's brought them the most comments of any single issue in years.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Arkansas-based company is considering a gas station, large parking lot and 155,000 square foot store at the intersection of East Post Road and Mount Vernon Road. The 24 acres of land is mostly vacant. Wal-Mart submitted a general outline of the proposed development to the city last month. However, the company has not taken any steps to secure the needed rezoning or annexation hearings yet and doesn't own the land in question.
Council member Pat Shey, who represents the district at the proposed site, said he's spent nine years on the city council and hasn't seen anything quite like the quick, negative reaction.
'I spent two hours on the phone yesterday (Thursday) and I asked my wife not to give out my cellphone number because I need to get some work done,” Shey said.
Shey estimated he got 35 emails in just over 24 hours. And he's had countless comments on his Twitter and Facebook sites.
A few of those comments favor the plan. But most are like the one addressed to council member Ann Poe.
'The addition of Wal-Mart would have a negative impact on the safety and overall image of the southeast side,” the email read in part.
Poe said that one was pretty mild compared to some.
'It's just amazing that something that's just a concept really has gotten this much attention already,” she added.
Council members like Poe and Shey said they aren't sure if the opposition is directed specifically at Wal-Mart or if a similar proposal by another 'big box” retailer would generate the same amount of negative comments. They suspect a bit of both.
Even Linn County supervisors are hearing from opponents even though it's a city issue and the county would have no say at all. Supervisor Brent Oleson actually posted that fact on his Twitter page and added Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett's email to the post.
'That wasn't in any kind of joking matter,” Oleson said adding 'I want to make sure the people who had written in got their voices heard by the right official.”