May 25, 2004

Oversized Wal-Mart Stores Threaten Vermont’s Essence

So says the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which placed the entire state of Vermont on its 2004 "endangered places" list.

"During the 1990s Wal-Mart located three of its four Vermont stores in existing buildings and kept them relatively modest in size," the organization notes. "Now, however, the world’s largest company is planning to saturate the state – which has only 600,000 residents – with seven new mammoth mega-stores, each with a minimum of 150,000 square feet."

The point isn't to bar Wal-Mart, but to urge the retailer to make reasonable modifications so as not to destroy the state's essence.

"Some big-box stores have adapted to local standards and worked to fit in gracefully with existing commercial districts. Some have even located in recycled vacant properties in existing downtowns," the National Trust says. "Wal-Mart should change to accommodate Vermont, not the other way around."

(Local aside: Unfortunately, ugly big-box strip-mall retail IS the existing commercial district along a good part of the Rte. 9/Rte. 30 Framingham-Natick "Golden Triangle." However, it doesn't have to be that way forever. Planners MUST start demanding more human-scale, pedestrian-compatible development. Not installing useless sidewalks in hideous asphalt oceans, but creating an area that people want to walk around in once there.)

No comments:

Post a Comment