Thursday, September 17, 2009

Construction Sites

Plans to construct a new Wal-Mart in a depressed community in central Virginia have caused a stormy new controversy. The proposed location, the Wilderness Battlefield, was the site of a fierce Civil War battle in which Grant faced Lee. In the two day battle, 30,000 soldiers died. Local residents were divided on the issue -- whether to preserve the land as holy ground or to accept Wal-Mart's offer to revive the sagging local economy -- but historians were nearly united in their opposition of the proposal.

Yet after a year long court battle, the super-store has now been given the green light.

Where do you come down on this issue? How can we -- or how should we -- balance our current needs with our obligations to the past? 

 
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18 comments:

Zoe C. said...

I don't think companies should be allowed to build on historic sites, especially one that's from an important battle like the Civil War. Sites like these should be preserved and appreciated for what it is, not paved into a parking lot. Instead, to boosts the town's economy, they should just advertise the fact that a Civil War battle site is located there and get tourists to come and spend money.

ShirleyR said...

I agree with Zoe in principle, however, my opinion os somewhat more flexible. A calculation should be done on how much money the Wal-mart would bring in versus a tourist site. If Wal-mart wins, then, once the community can afford it, a monument should be erected in memory of the battle (that should be done anyway, when it becomes affordable).

Also, if companies were never allowed to build on historically significant ground, then nearly nothing would be built in Jerusalem, many European cities, and along much of the U.S. east coast. Not that some things shouldn't be preserved, of course, some historic occurences are just too important.

T King said...

I definetely don't think that famous historical sites should be constructed over by superstores, or any stores for that matter. Sites like the Wilderness Battlefield, are important and irreplacable pieces of history, and shouldn't be disturbed. I mean, imagine if a company wanted to build on Ground Zero? Historical sites should stay undisturbed!

Ellie said...
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Ellie said...
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Claire m said...

I definitely agree with the opinion that historical sites should be preserved, however it seems like there is definitely an economic need for this new Walmart. Maybe half of the site can be for the Walmart and the other half can remain preserved? That would probably look kind of weird but at least that way everyone could have the best of both worlds. Overal, however, history should try to be preserved in any way possible.

Ellie said...

This also makes me wonder what happened on the land we call home before we lived here.

Ellie said...

I agree with Tommy, that historical sites shouldn't be destroyed for a chain store like Walmart. However, this specific town may need the benefits of a Walmart to stay "alive" in such a bad economy. I think it would be ideal to have a monument for the battle sight instead of a Walmart, but because the walmart is being built, i think the town should build a monument in front of the store so that the shoppers are aware of the significance of the land.

Maeli G. said...
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Maeli G. said...
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Maeli G. said...
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Maeli G. said...

I couldn't agree more with the previous comments, concerning the importance of balancing the historical landmark with a necessary economic improvement.
But quite honestly, must the Walmart be built at that specific location? There's got to be some way to compromise without destroying an important site.

PS- does anybody else find it a wee bit funny (albeit in an awful and not-funny-at-all kind of way) that Walmart, famous for employing unfair foreign labor policies, wants to build on a truly *American* landmark? The company is thereby destroying a piece of *American* culture. I don't know about you, but I see some irony there.

DPark said...

Yikes, this is a burdensome problem. After thinking about his, I actually have to disagree with all the people above. A Civil war battleground contains a certain amount of history and significance.
Some bloggers suggested that people should try to turn it into a touristic site. Is this a logical thing to try? I mean, in order to make it a tour site, a building of some kind has to be made, historical artifacts have to be dug up, and all of these initiatives require money.
I don't know this for a fact, but the State of Virginia's probably in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. This economy will not allow any wiggle room in spending, especially for touristic sites that won't guarantee immediate positive results. Wholesale stores like Wal-Mart will probably insure more short-term help to the economy than any historical battleground.
In addition, Wal-Mart has excellent low prices and really good back-to-school sales.

MMarin said...

Wow, this is hilarious. And terrible.

I don't think it's a good idea to pave over this historical site for a Wal Mart. One word that really jumps out at me here is 'short-term.' On one hand, it's impossible for me to tell a group of people to keep on living in such an economically depressed way considering I don't live there, but what do we do after the recession? We get a little bit more money for now, but do we really want to look back on ourselves as destroying a historical site for a Wal Mart? What does that say about us, exactly? You can't take that action back, and there are only so many historical sites to go around. Also, aren't superstores like Wal Mart bad for local business in the long run? When local businesses get more of a chance to start up after the recession, it's best if they don't have to compete with Wal Mart.

If they do go ahead with the Wal Mart, they definitely should NOT build a memorial stature in front of the store, in the parking lot or whatever. It would simply be too funny.

Madelaine said...

I agree with Maeli, I find it a little unbelievable that this site is absolutely the only place for a Wal-Mart to go; there has to be a better way to go about this process.

I think that it is unfortunate that this historical landmark is being destroyed, but realistically I feel that this new Wal-Mart would be more helpful to the town. I agree with many of the comments above; it does seem a little ridiculous to plow over a landmark for a chain store, but what good is that land doing now?

If this town has the opportunity for any sort of help during this recession, they should take it. I feel that as long as everyone is aware of the land's significance and can appreciate what happened there, it shouldn't matter if a Wal-Mart is built there.

Nathan said...

Initially I agree with everyone else but I began to think more deeply about this issue. One thing that I thought of immediately was the stigma that comes with the Walmart brand. They represent the evil in business, running mom and pop shops out of business and so on. I do,however believe that historical sites should not be eradicated for the benefit of the richest family in the world. I don't think the Waltons will go bankrupt if they do not somehow build this store. But my focal point is this: would we feel the same way if it were not walmart but rather an outdoors store or a family run grocery store? or Are we immediately writing this off because Walmart is the business in question?

Molly Hunt said...

Nathan, you make an interesting point; yes, I do think the Wal-mart is recieving more criticism for being built than a local buisness or a public building of some sort would recive. Nonetheless, I don't think anything should be built on the site as a result of the recession. I think that the recession causes desperation, and people might make an irreversible decision that could be regretted later in order to fix current issues. Like Maeli said, is there no other site that this could be built on?

I think that we are obligated to consider how decisions will affect our future, the one thing we have control over, before we decide to make a decision to honor the past or fix a current need.Is destroying this historic site worth a few years' economic relief? Or, is passing up this economic opportunity going to harm many generations to come?

Anna H. said...

I agree with Shirley, some sort of estimation should be made over which site would bring in more money for the community, Wal-Mart or a Tourist Site? I think that historical land marks should be protected but to what extent? America already has multiple historical sites dedicated to the Civil War, Gettysburg and Vicksburg. If we look at every acre of America the majority of them probably have some sort of historical significance.
So, after the estimations had been made and if Wal-Mart was more beneficial to the towns economy, then I think the store should be built. As to Nathan's comment I don't think it is as important that Wal-Mart would benefit financially from this new store as it would bring more jobs to the community and boost its economy.