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Walmart Approved: Here's What You Said.

Despite many people saying they would shop at the new Walmart, Patch readers are not happy about the retail giant coming to town. What do you think?

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"Just the tax revenue alone is fantastic for East Brunswick and it brings others into the neighborhood to shop," said Lisa M. "Also, the revenue from the traffic camera won't hurt either. On top of everything else, lets think about the employment opportunities. Nobody is being forced to shop there, but their prices make it affordable for the average family to buy necessities. Princeton has a Walmart, and if its good enough for Princeton, well then it's good enough for E. Brunswick!"

The Planning Board approved plans to build a 151,507-square-foot Walmart on the Golden Triangle site in April, and while many people are angry over the decision, it is a safe bet that many others will shop there, including East Brunswick residents.

More than half of the 420 votes cast in the poll (51 percent, or 216 votes) indicated that readers would shop at the Walmart once it was built.  The poll also saw 155 people say they wouldn’t “be caught dead” in the store, and 49 people said here is a variety of other places in East Brunswick where they can get similar products at similar prices.

Readers indicated in several stories on the new Walmart that they would consider moving because of the store’s arrival, saying that the retailer would destroy other businesses along Route 18, create traffic hazards, attract undesirable shoppers and ruin the reputation of East Brunswick. Others said that with the Walmart, higher end retail stores such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Wegmans would not consider moving to East Brunswick.

“When we moved to East Brunswick almost 39 years ago, this town was a source of pride for our family; now, it has been reduced to a source of embarrassment. The quality of stores, the empty malls, the downgrade of major businesses is pathetic. I feel sorry for the local store owner who has tried to remain in business, in spite of its low quality competition,” said Susan Jones.

Patch Reader Christopher K agreed, and said much of that has to do with the current state of the economy. He also said that, considering the demographics of surrounding towns, attracting high-end retailers might be difficult for the township.

“It's definitely feeling a lot more run down these days, though I'd chalk much of it up to the bad economy than something unique to East Brunswick. I still think East Brunswick has a lot of great qualities, or I wouldn't have moved back. East Brunswick seems to be having an identity crisis these days. A real mix of lower income and higher income housing coming online. And as someone earlier said, being bordered by Spotswood, Milltown, North Brunswick and New Brunswick makes it harder for East Brunswick to attract higher end stores and restaurants. That's unfortunate, but probably true. It doesn't mean we have to lower the bar quite as far as it seems to be heading, of course. Hopefully we'll eventually see some leadership that focuses on revitalizing East Brunswick for the longer term. Until then, only support the establishments you really believe are good for the township,” he said.

Patch poster John Romano blamed the development on the township and how it has managed the Golden Triangle property situation.

The plan is part of an agreement between Toll Brothers and the township that will end years of litigation between the two. The property was originally owned by the township and leased to a company that in turn subleased the land. In anticipation of that deal expiring in 2008, the township explored alternative uses for the land and in 2005 reached a deal with Toll Brothers and Jack Morris to purchase the 32-acre property from the township for $30.4 million. However, the developer had the right to terminate the agreement, and the township would have to buy it back, plus 8 percent. The clause came into play years later when the developers backed out and after seven payments totaling $22.5 million, said the township was in default of the contract and demanded East Brunswick buy the parcel back. The township in turn sued and the two sides have been litigating the issue since.

As part of the proposed settlement, there will be no additional payments from Toll Brothers to the township, meaning that the land has been bought for the $22.5 million already paid. In addition, the developer also has the right to sell the property back to the township within three years - but at no interest - if the township does not live up to its end of the bargain, said Mayor David Stahl. However, the township’s responsibilities are largely administrative and ones that can be easily performed, he said. In addition, that part of the deal would be nullified the moment a “shovel hits the ground,” said Mayor Stahl. The agreement also calls for Toll Brothers to drop approximately $600,000 in tax appeals it has filed with the township.

Toll Brothers is allowed to build up to 220,000 square feet of commercial retail space—with no one store being larger than 180,000 square feet—and 200 to 400 housing units. Under the agreement, no more than 10 percent of those units can be three bedroom apartments. Mayor David Stahl has said he expects Toll Brothers to build close to the maximum number of units allowed.

“It seems it was too easy for EB Town and Planning boards to accept the deal which is the ‘Tarnished Tin Plate Triangle,’ " said Romano. "They made an insane land deal to begin with. They had no leverage in the choice of end-user. They had no power to challenge the variances that were ‘requested. They were swatted in the ‘hind quarters,’ with absolutely no recourse but to say, "Thank you sir...may I have another. Heaven forbid the town's leadership put some effort into outlining strict criteria for the development of that site…this deal...top to bottom.... reeks of incompetence and indifference to the best interests of the town. THAT is the direction that the town leaders are steering us...and it makes me seriously wonder if any of them are related to the captain of the Titanic.”

The anger of the new Walmart led some posters to attack people who would one day use it, calling them “nonborn,” “riff raff” and “low lifes.”

“(It’s) a disaster for East Brunswick. What goes on in North Brunswick will be replicated in our town. Say hello to more traffic, low life shoppers, increased need for police presence. And lets say goodbye to the hopes to get a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Wegman’s. Perhaps we will also be saying goodbye to ShopRite, Stop n Shop and/or Pathmark,” said poster John Gault.

Others were harsher in their assessment of Walmart shoppers.

“So, this will give me about a year to get pizza stains on most of my shirts, buy a rusty pickup truck with a broken muffler, and grow a mullet,” said East Brunswick Patch poster “Rob.” “Walmarts remind me of those blue bug-zappers that you put in the backyard in the summer. They attract lowest life-forms from all around to descend on one location where they buzz around living and dead creatures in the structure. I avoid the ones in North Brunswick and Piscataway because the shoppers going through there are the types you end up seeing on the Maury Povich show when they're trying to figure out which one of the 17 guys is actually the father. Now I have one in my backyard. Awesome. peopleofwalmart.com now has another location to get some good pics. With any luck, I'll be able to find a disabled Camaro from the 80's from the junkyards on Harts to permanently park on my front lawn to celebrate the occasion.”

Bob May 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM
while i agree the tax revenue would be great for the town - i am apprehensive about the amount of traffic on route 18 let alone old bridge tpke and how much more time will be spent idling on rrte 18 trying to get home or go to another store - also where will all the tractor trailers go - rte 18-old bridge tpke - unauthorized local streets??? How did traffic engineering dream up little or no traffic increase - oblivously they don't ride rte 18 fr the tpke to rues lane during the day time or morning or evening rush time!!!!!!
Boo73 May 04, 2012 at 01:11 PM
The end result of years of negoiations by the township - can anyone say cluster. Rt 18 is hardly at capacity and there are many prominent empty stores. Once Walmart goes in that will surely get worse and the addtional empty buildings will go begging for tenants and become an eyesore for all of East Brunswick. Guess none of that was important to the leadership of East Brunswick. Walmart - where you have to shop without making eye contact with anyone.
STEVE May 04, 2012 at 03:38 PM
WAL MART IS NOT THE WAY TO GO. NEED BETTER BOX STORES WITH HIGHER QUALITY. BRUNSWICK MALL IS GOING DOWN HILL NOBODY SHOPS THERE ANYMORE. THATS HOW IT USE TO BE AT MENLO MALL. THEN THEY COMPLETELY REMODELED THE MALL AND I WAS THERE SUNDAY , PACKED WITH SHOPPERS.
kathleen kelton May 04, 2012 at 03:46 PM
sooo sad we need traders joes or whole foods
Denise May 04, 2012 at 06:40 PM
If it is a toss up between Walmart and a Trader Joes or Wegmans Wegmans would be better
Anthony J. Riccobono May 04, 2012 at 07:03 PM
The time to make your feelings known either way was months ago or at least at the recent planning board meeting. It's too late now! Tony R.
gary May 04, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Although the tax aspect is a good aspect of a large store, Walmart wouldn't be my first choice, ( or 2nd or 3rd either). I may go there if I see something advertised I need, but otherwise won't shop there.
Pat Kramer Mezick May 05, 2012 at 01:25 AM
All snobbish stereotyping of Walmart shoppers aside, East Brunswick Rob's description of the process of morphing into one is pretty funny ;)
E B Patch May 05, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I have lived in EB for 15 years. I do not think I ever thought of it as an upscale town. It is a middle class commuter town. I moved here because I could get a large house at a reasonable price and get to the city easily because of the park-and-rides. We do not have McMansions. The economy has hit everywhere. Some stores have shuttered but I am glad that so many of EB's stores have stayed open.I would like us to return to high occupancy level. I barely know how to use a microwave so I am more interested in good restaurants than a Wegman's. I miss the Sam's Club. I will shop at Walmart.
Madzi May 05, 2012 at 10:00 AM
My understanding is that the township gets little or nothing from "revenue from the traffic camera," as stated in the article. And even if it did, that's something to cheer about? More idiots running red lights creating even more of a traffic nightmare on 18? My commute home from Piscataway (where I avoid THAT Walmart like the plague) will be miserable, the residents on OB Tpk will suffer even MORE truck traffic and the quality of life in EB and South River will plummet. Hello, Walmart---goodbye small town retailers.
John Romano May 05, 2012 at 12:14 PM
....what is this "tax aspect" of which you speak? Every property owner / operator...pays property tax...that is a given. (unless you have granted the owner the benefits of tax reductions or an abatement). If the EB Walmart does more store sales than ANY other Walmart on the planet....EB get ZERO from that.
John Romano May 05, 2012 at 12:30 PM
....okay...so EB is not an upscale town all of a sudden? If that's the case, then perhaps it's time for residents to seriously consider filing property tax appeals...being that we're now on the same level as Sayreville, South River & Spotswood. If you are going to degrade the character of the town...then my property's appeal and associated valuation shouldn't be taxed as if it's a "higher end" community. The town's perpetually utilized crutch of "we have good schools" only goes so far in justifying regularly increased property taxes.
John Romano May 05, 2012 at 01:01 PM
....it's a sad state of affairs when a township needs to rely on revenue generated by a traffic cam and the actions of idiots. But....then again...it's just so incredibly appropriate when the discussion is related to EB and this topic.
Alan Goldberg May 07, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Why can't we have Wal Mart and Trader Joes?
Kelly May 08, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Alan, I see no reason why we can't have both - it is entirely possible. My point, and some others, is simply that we do not want a corporation like Walmart having a local presence is our town. Walmarts destroy local economies - by beating competitors prices through unethical business practices (read all the coverage in the NYT over the last few weeks for coverage of their newest bribery scandal). When a new Walmart opens in town, there is a short and fast uptick in jobs produced followed by a long sustained reduction in the number of jobs in town. Also, the jobs created result in more families on government subsidized programs, resulting in more federal spending, which we pay for in higher or taxes or deficit spending that we pay even more for later. Everything has a cost, and when you find a 'deal' at Walmart, know that someone paid the price for the difference in cost - it may be you, it may be your neighbor, it may be the small mom and pop store up the street, or the manufacturer down the highway, or our children's air quality, etc. - but, someone paid the extra price for it somewhere down the road.
Fred Norrell May 09, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I am sure that the so-called "Tax Revenue" will either be squandered or sucked up by the "State." Although I have not seen nor have I read the proposal, what improvements will be made to Rt. 18? It's not quite as bad as the "Long Island Express Way" but it's still pretty bad. What would Sam say?
Fay May 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
i never heard about the pool; but I read all notifications about the Golden Triangle site. it's very sad to miss this info. and i thought we ( East Brunswick residents) should decide what type of store we need in our town or at least be asked what store we are considering to have. I believe most of EB residents will vote for Trader Joes or Wegmans. There is WallMart 3.85 miles away from EB on rt 1. It's very close to us. Why we need another one? Sam's is good to be back. I wonder if our comments will change anything?
Laura May 12, 2012 at 02:23 PM
No health benefits, no sick time, no unions, just above minimum wage, and more workers being forced to use state subsidized benefits from tax payers. Good for employment? Good for taxes? Maybe not. What does East Brunswick stand for? http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/walmart-and-workers/ Walmart masks the truth about the wages paid to their employees. The average Walmart employee makes about $8.81 per hour according to a study by Bloomberg News. Full time employees, defined by Walmart as 34 hours a week, make on average $15,500 per year. Hundreds of thousands of people who have FULL TIME jobs at Walmart continue to live below the poverty line. As a result, many Walmart workers must utilize state subsidized benefits, and studies have found that people working for Walmart are more reliant on government benefits – costing taxpayers more than $1 billion nationwide. Walmart has a history of denying employees the right to organize and collectively bargain. The company engages in anti-union tactics by requiring workers to attend union busting training, particularly supervisors. Between July 2005 and June 2011, Walmart settled an estimated 70 state and federal class action wage and hour lawsuits and lost one jury trial of a wage and hour case, involving a total of well over a million current and former employees and costing the company over $1 billion. The lawsuits covered wage and hour violations including unpaid wages and lack of legally required breaks.
Chris May 13, 2012 at 03:41 AM
There are just so many reasons to not want a Wal-mart in our town. The sad thing is that people will still shop there. I honestly believe that Old Bridge tpk will be over crowded with traffic from people coming in from South River and from Sayreville. The problem is that they will be coming just for the Wal-Mart. I would love to see the numbers on unoccupied retail space the week the Wal-Mart opens and compare it to the space available 2 years after its been open. Rt 18 is already too empty and this horrible store will make things so much worse.
korbermeister May 17, 2012 at 02:44 AM
you guys rejected an expansion of brunswick square mall years ago that would've made it able to compete with freehold raceway. So you get a walmart instead; you've reaped what you've sowed
elaine cirelli May 30, 2012 at 05:08 AM
I love the fact that a walmart is coming to E.B. If Princton can have a walmart, trader joes and wegmans it could work here. Walmart offers low prices and large variety of products. Have no fear everyone in question, walmart is not your enemy but a friend to your wallet.
Lisa M. May 31, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I too think it will be a great benefit to our community. More jobs, cheap prices...can't beat it!!
n seth July 20, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Walmart will once again like all the other lower end businesses on RT 18 bring down the standard of east brunswick. Work to bring in quality establishments: Wegmans, Whole Foods. Our last two mayors continue to down grade EB.
Shelly September 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I agree with this commuter and I know many people from EB, who are definitely not UPSCALE, and will definitely shop in Walmart... as most residents will. Sams Club carried lower-priced/bulk items and how about that disguisting flea market and Jason's - oh yeah, that was really upscale. So, for all the snob-sounding residents who think they are upscale, move to the Hamptons or Sands Point in NY... or go to Short Hills, NJ or some Mansion-y area in NJ if you want upscale... EB is a middle class commuter town where you do get a decent house for the price (prices have come down too). If you think you are paying more in taxes, you should look outside your bubble - many other places, even lower-class, pay some high taxes that keeping going up. I commute to NYC and make a good living and do understand the people you are speaking about coming into Walmart, but I believe there is a mixture of class that will be - I will shop there. I would love a combo of Trader Joe's too. Unfortunately, many middle-class areas are surrounded by mid-lower class, but you had to see that happening while living there and if it really bothered you, you should have moved. The worst part will be the traffic. It is already too crowded there and the mention of building condos/co-ops too - cars would be everywhere, but we did have traffic with Sam's Club there too - everyone does remember the stores that were there before, right?

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