FLORENCE — The City Council will consider a resolution in a called meeting today to allocate $210,000 for traffic signals associated with the construction of a second Wal-Mart in Florence, and that has angered the leader of a citizens group that opposes the new store.
"I couldn't believe what I was reading this morning," said Coy Bramlett, referring to coverage of the City Council's Tuesday meeting in the TimesDaily.
"This was not in the agreement. The agreement was they would pay for all the traffic changes required by (the state) and the city," he said. "Wal-Mart's the biggest business in the world. They can afford the traffic signal installation."
The council was asked by a developer of the project during its Tuesday work session to consider paying the signal installation.
Scott McGee, of MAP Development, said they are spending $200,000 to pave the access road from the south parking lot to Cox Creek Parkway and are adding curbs and gutters, which meets city subdivision specifications.
He said the original agreement did not require curbs and gutters, but it was decided that would make the remaining property more desirable for development.
Councilman Sam Pendleton said the city has paid for infrastructure in other projects, particularly around Home Depot on Seville Street, with the promise of more retail development to come. He said he will support the request.
Council President James Barnhart said during Tuesday's meeting the city will ask the Alabama Department of Transportation to pick up some of the cost, too, if the resolution is adopted.
Bramlett, who ran for a City Council seat but lost the runoff to Blake Edwards, along with dozens of people who live near the site of the proposed Wal-Mart off Cloverdale Road, succeeded in getting major traffic and road changes built into the company's plan before it was approved by city officials.
Among their concerns were dangerous intersections made worse by the increased traffic around the store. The state agreed with many of their concerns and required several intersection safety enhancements.
McGee said the left, southbound turn from Wright Drive onto Cloverdale Road is a "failing movement" that will require carefully timed signals.
Bramlett said the city should not be contributing money to the signals when the original agreement called for Wal-Mart's developers to cover the costs.
"The city has too many agencies and departments that could use this $200,000," he said. "The Little League needs new equipment and uniforms.
Safeplace could really use this money, and so could the Salvation Army. Our unwanted pets and the animal shelter could sure use the money.
"There are a lot of deserving parties that need these funds more than Wal-Mart," Bramlett said. "The fact that they (council) have done this before does not mean that two wrongs make a right."
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.