BALLSTON SPA – On Thursday, September 3, the Ballston Town Planning Board gave the final approval for a Wal-Mart store to be built on Route 50, near Route 67. The decision was made unanimously, despite much controversy surrounding the building proposal.
The Wal-Mart was first proposed in May 2014. Since then, there have been two public hearings and numerous meetings where people expressed both positive and negative opinions about the construction. Many feared it would tarnish the small-town atmosphere of the area. Others had concerns about increased traffic and traffic safety.
“After review of all the traffic professionals’ estimations, there was adequate reason to approve,” said Tom Johnson, Town of Ballston building inspector, in regards to the in-depth traffic study conducted last year on Route 67 and Route 50. “After the study there were some changes in the layout as far as retaining vegetation and the look of the building. I’ll review the set of plans to make sure they confirm with NYS building code and required building inspections as it is being constructed.”
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart, William Wertz, discussed how the original design was for a larger store. They listened to the community in that regard and revised a plan for a smaller store, though it is still considered a “super center.” The store will feature a full line of groceries, along with general merchandise.
Wertz also addressed the concern that the Wal-Mart would detract from smaller, local businesses. In response, they agreed to place a kiosk at the main entrance to the store, which will be coordinated by the local chamber of commerce. Local business owners can put up fliers and business cards to advertise. This will allow shoppers to see what other local options are available.
“Ballston Spa is a thriving and vibrant community, making it a great place to do business and to reside,” said Michelle Burligame, Vice President of the Ballston Spa Business and Professionals Association (BSBPA), speaking on behalf of the entire board. “This is a testament to our local businesses, their owners and our residents. It is their hard work and pride in this community which will allow this area to continue to thrive in the years to come. We hope that Wal-Mart and the developers will become our partners in these efforts.”
The new Wal-Mart store will generate about 300 jobs, including 150 construction jobs. It will also give locals a new, affordable shopping option.
“It’s a combination of factors when we look for a new location, but the primary thing is allocation that makes shopping more convenient for our customers. Rather than having to drive too far, they can now shop closer to home,” Wertz continued.
Though the final approval was given for the building, the Wal-Mart sign has not yet been approved. It will take roughly a year to build the store once construction begins. The project is predicted to be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.