Avondale discusses possible Wal-Mart annexation
By Jill Nolin, Contributor
As Avondale Estates officials pursue coveted commercial properties near its northern boundaries, they may also have to consider a piece of property on the south side that has a complicated history with Avondale – the Wal-Mart on Columbia Drive.
The same big box store that many Avondale Estates residents fought several years ago has found its way into the annexation discussion. State Rep. Karla Drenner recently questioned Avondale’s reasoning for cutting off Wal-Mart on its proposed map, Commissioner Randy Beebe said.
“She’s not telling us to take Wal-Mart. She’s telling us, ‘You need to look and you need to give me some wiggle room in what we’re kind of moving around here,’” Beebe said during a commission meeting Monday.
For every proposed addition to Avondale, there are numerous factors used to determine whether acquisition is in the town’s best interest, Commissioner Lindsay Forlines said.
From the cost analysis to how a new addition might affect Avondale’s overall character, there’s plenty to consider.
And while Wal-Mart would mean more revenue for Avondale, it would also demand additional law enforcement resources. That’s no small issue for a town that prides itself on its 1-to-228, police-to-resident ratio.
“Wal-Mart is a can of worms,” Forlines said at Monday’s meeting. “It is a whole different dynamic with the financials because they have some special considerations there because of the police activity having to be what it is.
“I don’t think anyone on this board is closed off to it, and we remain in analysis mode on all areas … I think if it got assigned to us, we would make it work and still thrive,” she added.
At last week’s work session, interim Mayor Terry Giager said the town previously considered the pros and cons of absorbing Wal-Mart and concluded that it would not be “financially viable” because of the added expense of creating a nearby police branch.
“That might change now. I understand the store is doing some really unbelievable volume over there,” Giager said at last week’s meeting. “That has come up in discussion, and that has not been resolved yet.”
Giager was absent from Monday’s meeting because of a surgery.
For Commissioner John Quinn, it may take more than positive numbers to sway him.
“That’s a very divisive issue. I was here when this place was packed and overflowing and that was being discussed, so there’s a lot of baggage that comes along with it,” Quinn said during last week’s discussion. “Some fights might be worth fighting, and some might not – and that one might be on my ‘might not’ list.”
The deadline for the groups trying to form new cities was Saturday. Two groups pushing for the cities of Briarcliff and Lakeside have announced a plan for a combined city called LaVista Hills.
Beebe said Tucker did not submit a map, which he hopes will work to Avondale’s advantage when a state legislative committee sits down to review the information.
“With Tucker not turning in a map, I think it gives us a little more leeway in that we can say, ‘Well, we had a map,’” Beebe said Monday night.
Avondale still needs to vote on what map to submit, or whether to submit a map at all.