Say No to Walmart


Watch "Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price" on Watertown Cable

"Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price" will be shown on the Watertown Community Access Center (Comcast Channel 8, RCN Channel 15) starting on Wednesday, February 1st at 1:30pm and Thursday, February 2nd at 7:00pm.   We're told that this program will repeat every week at these same times.

We encourage everyone to watch this amazing movie and to invite friends to watch and discuss it together. If Sustainable Watertown members want to host a house party and invite neighbors, family, and friends, we will help with a check list of what to do to make it easy and we'll drop off posters showing the location of the proposed site. If you want another member to speak, or help out, just let us know by writing to

Town Assessor: Walmart tax revenue 62% less than we thought

Watertown's head assessor, Frank Golden, has reduced his estimate of what Walmart will add to Watertown's tax revenue.  In light of state tax laws passed in 2009, and Walmart's filing status as a corporation, Golden states that the amount of revenue which Walmart will add to the town's coffers is a mere $115,000, down from the original estimate of $308,000.

The change to the assessor's estimate was prompted by reports from Oxford and other towns all over the Commonwealth that revenue from taxes on Walmart's corporate personal property will be practically zero.  While state revenues will increase due to the change in the laws, revenues to the cities and towns will be greatly diminished.

An explanation of the tax law changes can be found on the Sprawl Buster web site. Articles covering the affects this will have on other Massachusetts cities and towns can be found in the Worcester Business Journal, The Worcester Telegram, and The Berkshire Eagle

January Stand-Out a Great Success

About 40 to 50 people gathered on January 21st to stand-out against Walmart.   The gathering took place near the intersection of Arsenal Street and Beacon Park where Walmart wants to plant their 90,000 sqare foot store. The group met at 10:00am during the season's first real snow storm, but despite the weather, the turnout was great.

Spirits were high among the the group, which included citizens from many parts of Watertown.  Passing motorists beeped their horns in solidarity, and some even pulled over to find out more about the protest and Walmart's plans for the area.

Where Walmart Wants to Build

Unlike the Arsenal and Watertown Malls, the proposed Walmart is sited about a half mile from Watertown Square.  Also unlike the malls, which are separated from residential neighborhoods by light manufacturing and office buildings, the Walmart will abut one residential neighborhood, and be across the street from another.  It will be behind the United Tile store and Peter Fuller Auto Rentals.  It looks like a proposed entrance is at the edge of the lot with the billboard across from the Toyota dealership.

In the picture, taken from the Watertown Zoning Map (PDF), the light and dark yellow areas are residential.  The gray areas are industrial.  There's a proposed site plan on the Watertown Tab web site or, to get a better sense of the site and the surrounding residential neighborhoods, see the satellite view from Google Maps.

It looks like there are over 50 residences within 300 feet of the proposed store.

An Open Letter to Watertown, MA – Please do not bring Walmart here.

Dear The Powers that Be in Watertown, MA,

I am writing to express my disappointment in the consideration of bringing Wal-Mart to Watertown. We first moved to Watertown six and a half years ago. Coming from Florida, I was thrilled to land in an area that had small town charm, but was still minutes from the city. It was the best of both worlds.

But then I looked even deeper into Watertown, and discovered that it is more than small town charm, it is a foodies paradise! With small local shops like Crown Cafe, Maximo’s, Demo’s, The Aegean, Matilda’s, Fordee’s, Arax Market, International Natural Bakery, Russo’s and so many more, it is so nice to know that I can get almost everything I need from a local vendor. And for the times when these shops can’t provide what I need, we have Target and the Arsenal Mall to take care of that.

So please tell me, why on earth do we need a Wal-Mart? What can this big box store possibly provide us that we don’t already have, and couldn’t have from a local shop?

The future of Watertown should be in our uniquely local, small business economy. Why do more people not know about our shops and eateries? Let’s spend our efforts in getting that word out there, not in bringing in a conglomerate that is so divisive. The movement in New England is to know exactly where your goods come from, and Watertown has been ahead of that movement for years, so lets let everyone know about it! We don’t need Wal-Mart to come in to our town and kill our most valued asset, that would be heartbreaking.

Please take note of our voice as citizens of Watertown. We have signed this petition (if you would like to gather signatures, please email, we will be writing in Mike Mandell for Town Councilor at Large based on his anti-Walmart platform on November 8th, and we have come together in opposition of even the thought of Wal-Mart in our town. Please do not let our cries fall on deaf ears.

Thank you for your time, and here’s hoping you do the right thing,

Renee Hirschberg, Watertown, MA.

Renee Hirschberg is a food writer, product / restaurant reviewer & social media maven as well as the editor of the Eat Live Blog. Check out her blog at


Resources and Links

Watertown Patch: Mandel, Walmart Impacted the Watertown Elections

What was supposed to be an unchallenged race for Watertown's four at-large Town Councilors became a nail-biting wait on Tuesday's election night — and all because Walmart may be coming to town.  Read the article >>

Walmart Sends Watertown a Form Letter

Walmart spokesperson, Chris Buchanan, sent a letter to the Watertown Tab to "clarify some facts" about Walmart.  He didn't spend a lot of time on it, though, as it was almost a word-for-word copy of the letter he sent to the Boston Globe regarding the Walmart proposed for Somerville.

Sustainable Watertown mentioned on Sprawl Busters website

There's an article about us at the web site Sprawl Busters, which is a national clearinghouse of anti-big-box information.

One correction: They say that getting a special permit requires the Town Council to vote on the matter, but we believe that's incorrect. Read the article >>

Documentaries on Walmart

Looking for something interesting to watch about the effects of Walmart?  Check out these on-line resources:

Watertown Tab: Watertown councilors mixed on Walmart

The tab surveyed the Town Councilors about the proposed Walmart.  Find out who said yes, who said no, and who wouldn't say.  Read the Article >>


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