Monday, April 18, 2005

Wally's Eighth Street

Well, it's been a few days, and I've got a few new ideas running around my head. Before I post about one of them, I've got to get out and collect come pictures to go along with the post. Wal-Mart, which is headquartered just around the corner from me in downtown Bentonville, has been lobbying Congress for a 37 million dollar addition to the Federal Highway Bill that is before Congress right now to widen a two-lane road that goes east-west across Bentonville to five lanes. Once I post some pictures, you'll begin to see why this is a bad idea. Hopefully I can get a map/graphic built to better illustrate the situation to you folks who aren't familiar with life here in Wally's backyard.

So as soon as I get some photos of Eighth Street and the home office, and compose my thoughts about the matter, I'll have a (hopefully) informative post about the situation as it stands. Right now, My Other Half and I are much too emotional about the issue to do much good. We were driving out into the country on Saturday to ride bikes around a Civil War park and we had to stop talking about it because we were getting so worked up.

Once I calm down, I'll be in a better place to talk about it without sounding like I"m slamming Wal-Mart entirely. Living in Bentonville, it's hard to say that Wal-Mart doesn't do anything for the community: It might be the one city in the country where they actually consider the area in regards to their development. (Which might be because their employees have to LIVE here.) And they have a vested interest to make it as livable a place as possible so they can recruit the best and brightest to work for them.

But the adage that I hear around town of "good for Wal-Mart is good for Bentonville" is not necessarily true. Sometimes in the short-term, it's correct, but it's certainly not a universal truth.

The catch-22 is that without Wal-Mart, Bentonville would hardly exist. So in many ways, Wal-Mart is great for Bentonville. In fact, the economy of ALL of Northwest Arkansas would suffer incredibly if Wally ever moved out. So it's certainly accurate to describe Wally as having a unique relationship with this fair city. So we don't have the luxury of HATING Wal-Mart here. It sort of forces us to figure out the best way to deal with it, rather than protesting, picketing, saying "Not In My Backyard", or the like. We have it here, and we NEED it. So we have to figure out how to work together for the good of the city.

And therein, my friend, lies the rub. Good for Bentonville is the bottom line. Good for Wal-Mart is important, and must be considered, but long-term, the goal has to be Good for Bentonville.

(I'll also post a map you can look at if you want to see the area. I drew on it with a crayon. *grin*)