After nearly 20 years of debate, Wal-mart's arrival in St. Albans is delayed again.
Developers planned to break ground on the new store this month. Monday night, they announced said that's not going to happen on-schedule. However, the wait should be a short one.
Just off I-89 and across from the St. Albans' drive-in movie theater sits a cornfield, and the future site of Vermont's soon-to-be biggest Wal-mart. A construction permit is the only visible sign of the 150,000 sq. ft. box store to come.
"It would make it a lot easier to do shopping here in our area instead of having to chase away to Williston," said St. Albans town resident Leslie Wells.
Following nearly two decades of debate and legal wrangling, Vermont's highest court gave the discount store the go ahead last August. A groundbreaking had been promised by the end of May, but at a St. Albans town meeting, developer Jeff Davis said that won't happen.
"We're almost there," he said, "understandably, with the experience that Wal-mart has had in Vermont they did not want to move too quickly." He said they wanted to have every permit in hand before they bid out any construction contracts.
Project engineers and developers say they're putting the enormous project up for bid in the next week or so, and hope to break ground this July, opening one year later. Residents we spoke with say that's a short wait after nearly 20 years.
"I'm a little disappointed," said Wells, "but as long as they get here we've waited this long, a little longer I don't think is going to make a difference."
Developers said they don't know how many jobs or dollars the new store will bring to the area, but they insist the future will be bright.
We did speak with an area farmer who did not want to go on camera. She said she's disappointed that Wal-mart will indeed be coming to town. She said she knows the battle is lost at this point, but said the community will reap what it has sown.
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