Is Baltimore getting steam-rolled? [Letter]

November 24, 2013

Thank you for printing the letter, "25th Street Station controversy isn't over yet," (Nov. 20) by Damien Nichols. I agree with his sentiments.

I am writing to express my serious concern regarding assessment of the proposed development in my neighborhood on 25th Street. I have reservations about the long-term negative impacts that a Walmart store would have on our neighborhood and the city as a whole. The promise of "new jobs" always fails to mention the jobs would have such low compensation that employees would still require social services! No business of any kind that received heavy taxpayer subsidies should ever be allowed to engage in such shoddy practices.

The effect of a multinational low-cost retailer on the city's economy will be to directly remove wealth out of our community. Only a tiny fraction of the revenue at such a store would stay in Baltimore (in the form of low-paying jobs) while the vast majority leaves the city in the form of international supply chains and corporate profits.

More than the direct negative impacts, I am concerned that representation of the citizens of Baltimore is being steam-rolled by corporate interests, all in the name of development. Since approval by the City Council in 2010 of the 25th Street Station Planned Urban Development, the plans have undergone substantial changes. Building design has been heavily modified, loading docks have been shifted, street access and parking have changed. Even more noticeably, Lowe's, the only other major retail store interested, has completely dropped out of the project, which has necessitated additional changes to the plans.

Have moneyed interests had their way with the political process? More than the bad jobs and the siphoning of our city's wealth, that is the real risk to Baltimore.

Scott Williams, Baltimore

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