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Big Box o' Fish 

Editor:

Normally I try to stay out of the fray of letter writing, but a letter by Gary Graham Hughes titled "Grovewashing" (July 23) needs a reality check.

I'm wondering if Mr. Hughes, and the other few but vocal opponents of the Richardson Grove project, have noticed that there is a Costco and a Target in Eureka, and a Wal-Mart and a Home Depot in Crescent City? How do they think these stores are being supplied?

I've seen the Wal-Mart/Sam's Club trucks on 101. Richardson Grove isn't slowing them down one bit, and the windy roads on all sides of Crescent City present no barrier to the supply chain. Recall, if you will, the battle between Wal-Mart and the citizens of Eureka a number of years ago. I doubt that the company would have been considering Eureka at all if they could not supply their store.

So it is important to get the fact that Richardson Grove, as it is now, presents no barrier to big box stores. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target and Costco all have their own fleets of trucks. Using the argument that widening the highway at the Grove will open the gates to a big-box invasion is nothing more than a scare tactic. They have always been able to come here.

What Richardson Grove does present is a barrier to local businesses that do not own their own trucks, and the out-of-area customers who buy local products. The more stuff you can cram into a truck, the less each of those items costs to ship. Currently, it is amazingly expensive to truck stuff into and out of Humboldt County. Standard-size trucks would lessen that cost. The Richardson Grove project will let those trucks come and go.

But back to the big boxes. If you insist on being frightened, consider this scenario: Wal-Mart would be a going concern in Eureka right now if the land Wal-Mart wanted to build on was not subject to a conditional use permit, to which over 60 percent of Eureka voters said "No!"

There is property out there that could be available to them under the right conditions like, say, the Bayshore Mall. General Growth, the company that owns the mall and others nationwide, is struggling right now. With their anchor stores, Mervyns and Gottschalks, gone, who knows what kind of exit strategy they may be looking for? The Bayshore Mall property is already principally permitted for the use any big box would require. You could probably fit two of them in there. If one of them happens to be Wal-Mart, what is to prevent them from shutting down their Crescent City location? They've done it before elsewhere. We'll leave it to the residents of Crescent City to decide if that would be good or bad.

If we want to stop Wal-Mart, other ways need to be employed that don't hurt the local businesses. As far as the big boxes are concerned, Richardson Grove is a red herring.

Rick Bend, Arcata

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