Walmart notified Town Council President Mark Sideris today that it will not be opening a store in Watertown, Massachusetts. Sideris informed Sustainable Watertown that the company has abandoned its controversial plans to build in both Watertown and Somerville.
Sustainable Watertown, a year-old civic organization, has fought the arrival of the retail giant since residents discovered that a lease had been signed on an Arsenal Street property. Nearly 300 citizens attended the first public discussion last October. Following an intense town election in November, town officials demonstrated increasing opposition to a potential Walmart store. Sustainable Watertown effectively channeled the spirit of an overwhelming number of residents dedicated to saving the unique character and local, independent businesses of Watertown. An organization of seven hundred members attended protests, signed petitions, published letters to local newspapers, and displayed seven hundred “No Walmart: No More Big Boxes” lawn signs across town.
Sideris spoke out unequivocally against Walmart at a May community forum hosted by Sustainable Watertown. Today, Sideris received a call from Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters informing him that Walmart would not be submitting a formal proposal to build here. Though Walmart has yet to make its announcement public, Sideris called the news “solid and real.” Sideris had been warned to expect news this month by Ed Nardi, of Cresset Development Company, which owns the Watertown property that Walmart had conditionally leased over a year ago.
We, the members of Sustainable Watertown, applaud the news of our campaign’s success and pledge to continue to work with town residents and members, supporting neighborhood groups, taking an early role in planning and development projects, and providing venues for discussions of sustainability. We will continue to advocate on behalf of the town for a positive vision of a healthy, just and prosperous community.