Councilman Ed Gonzalez, whose District H includes the Heights, said his job is to facilitate discussions between his constituents and The Ainbinder Co., Wal-Mart's developer, and to lobby for the community's demands as work progresses.
"I want to make sure the community gets a project that's not going to be a detriment, that's not going to be a harbor for crime, that's not just going to be a sea of concrete, that's not going to be a typical big-box development," Gonzalez said. "These are the kinds of things I'm advocating, based on some of the concerns I'm hearing. ...Taking a stand for or against any retailer limits my ability to advocate for some of those things."
That approach has frustrated some residents. Two of the three bursts of applause at a July 20 meeting of the Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council came after citizens said they thought Gonzalez should publicly oppose the project.
Residents who have met with Ainbinder executives said the developers have stressed a neighborhood-appropriate design and extra landscaping.
But those goals aren't enough for Koehler Street resident Nick Urbano, whose road would be one of three routes into the development.
"A standard of aesthetics doesn't define a neighborhood," Urbano said. "As soon as you're in the door it's still Wal-Mart. The trucks that are going to be driving through the neighborhood 24-7 are still Wal-Mart. The lights that are needed to light a 700-car parking lot in the middle of a neighborhood are still Wal-Mart."
I think Mike did a good job with this article. He goes on to quote an additional neighbor, who is in favor of the development, and I want to stress something here ... I don't know anyone who is opposed to the development. It really comes down to how the land is being developed, and in this case, its irresponsibly.