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Opposition group to Wal-mart forms in Holyoke

Date: 6/28/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — While people might see the construction of a new Wal-mart Supercenter on Whiting Farms Road to be a property tax boon to the city, others fear the problems the store could create.

An opposition group to the project has been formed on Facebook, Holyoke Residents Against Wal-mart.

One of the first postings read, "Wal-mart has proposed adding a new Supercenter at 222 Whiting Farms Road here in Holyoke, Mass. While some people are attracted to Wal-mart's low prices and the like, a Wal-mart here would be extremely detrimental to our economy and to our workers. Firstly, it would eliminate many of the established small businesses here in Holyoke and would therefore control prices of many types of goods in the immediate area. Furthermore, Wal-mart is notorious for paying its employees very low wages and for finding ways to prevent its workers from forming unions.

"Many employees find it necessary because of their wages and because of their inabilities to form unions and fight for better pay to register for government assistance programs which then pull the necessary funds out of tax money which obviously ought to be spent in more important areas. The bottom line is that Wal-mart will ultimately do nothing but harm Holyoke and I love this city too much to stand by and do nothing while this threat faces us. I hope that others will like this page in order to show our politicians that the people of Holyoke do not want this travesty in our city. Long live Holyoke."

Thomas Hebert, the founder of the page, said that a lot of people are "mesmerized by low prices and so many goods in one location," but they are "innocents endangered."

Hebert, who doesn't live in the immediate neighborhood where Wal-mart wants to build, noted there is a Wal-mart Supercenter minutes away in Chicopee, another in Springfield and another Wal-mart in Westfield. He questioned why a supercenter store was needed in Holyoke.

"We surrounded by cities that already have one. We don't need to have one right here amongst us," he said.

Hebert is also concerned about the negative impact a supercenter could have on small businesses in Holyoke.

"We're already an impoverished community," he said. "Smart businesses help the community."

Hebert is hoping like-minded Holyokers will join his Facebook page at