Residents worried about Walmart impact

February 17, 2011 8:46:02 PM PST
Construction is under way at the site of the new Walmart on Interstate10 and Silber. But as the company prepares for its opening, neighbors are very worried. They're concerned about the impact the superstore will have on the quiet streets they live on.

The building of the Walmart is already underway, but it's the traffic concerns that brought hundreds of residents and business owners out to a meeting Thursday night.

It's a construction project that not everyone is welcoming to the neighborhood, but that's not what's up for debate. How the traffic will affect those who live and work here is.

The city rolled out four plans to help control traffic in and out of this Walmart, which will open on Silber near I-10. The closest neighborhood is Afton Village where families occupy about 258 homes.

"This is a neighborhood that has a lot of young kids right now, and we're all concerned about increased traffic coming around the neighborhood and potentially putting harm to our kids," resident Edward Pak said.

The plans range from limiting access to those residential streets to a full scale closure, which drew a lot of applause.

"Arteries to our neighborhood which will become clogged with Walmart and other commercial traffic and cause the heart of neighborhood to die, that is not going to happen as long as I'm president," HOA President David Gilbert said.

But not everyone is on agreement when it comes to which plan the city should implement.

"That will make me drive all the way to Antoine every time I need to go for a call. So I'm going to be running the street many times a day," said George Gutierrez, a resident and business owner.

But even if the city implements the plan many homeowners want, a lot of residents believe they are already living in a changed neighborhood.

"We were a sleepy neighborhood; we're not anymore," resident Wendy Hartsoe said. "There's way too much traffic coming up."

The city will continue to take written comments and then will make a final decision in the weeks to come.