Three days before Boonville residents decide whether they want a new Wal-Mart, both sides of the debate voiced their opinions about the issue Saturday.
Al Norman, an anti-Wal-Mart activist who has written two books about the retail giant, spoke at a rally in downtown Boonville against Proposition A, which would annex 28.8 acres of land to the city for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter. The new Wal-Mart would replace the existing store in Boonville.
Norman said Wal-Mart’s expansion would help the company, not the community of Boonville.
“This store is not being built for Main Street, but for Wall Street,” Norman said.
Invited to speak by residents and businesses against the proposition, Norman addressed a crowd of about 50 people, many holding up signs saying “Prop A No Way” and handing out fliers to passing cars.
“We just don’t need a supercenter in Boonville,” said Tim Nadeau, a former employee at the Boonville Wal-Mart. “The one we have is adequate.”
Besides complaints about what a supercenter would do to local businesses, residents were also concerned about Wal-Mart abandoning the existing store on Main Street, leaving an eyesore for the community.
Larry Meine, treasurer of the “Yes on Proposition A” committee, held a smaller meeting with a handful of supporters at his house earlier Saturday morning. He presented a petition with more than 3,000 signatures of individuals who want the supercenter.
Meine, who worked at Wal-Mart for 15 years, said it was mainly businesses fighting the expansion, not residents.
“People say it’s the wrong time, but when is the right time? This fight isn’t about annexation, it’s about not wanting Wal-Mart in town,” Meine said. “The petition tells us we have the support of the community and they want the supercenter.”