Super Wally World#8217; bypasses Ahoskie By Cal Bryant 03/17/2008 Bittersweet; that#8217;s about the only reaction I can come up with over Wal Mart#8217;s decision not to build a Super Center in Ahosk

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2008

Bittersweet; that’s about the only reaction I can come up with over Wal Mart’s decision not to build a Super Center in Ahoskie.

What’s so sweet about all of this is that I’m not a big fan of Wal Mart. No, it’s not a matter of hating the nation’s biggest retail chain. I rather base my opinion that once the giant comes to town, especially a small town like Ahoskie, the competition is crushed under its wake. If a Super Center doesn’t come, and from all indications it will not, there is a slim ray of hope that some other retail chain may consider locating here. At least that will give us shoppers a choice.

“Sweet” also plays a role in the fact that without a Super Center grocery store, the existing food markets in Ahoskie can breathe a sigh of relief.

Now for the bitter. The presence of a Super Center in Ahoskie would have generated more sales tax revenue for the town as well as for Hertford County. It would have also given our citizens more job opportunities.

It’s also bitter from the standpoint that our citizens, at least those who love to shop at Wal Mart, may choose to go elsewhere to conduct their business. Again, that hurts from a sales tax standpoint as we lose at home while a nearby town stands to benefit (kind of sounds like the Ahoskie bypass deal, doesn’t it).

On Saturday, my wife and child visited and fell in love with the brand new Wal Mart Super Center over in Williamston. The money they spent in Martin County could have remained in Hertford County, if only we had another shopping option other than the often under-stocked big box store off Memorial Drive.

There was the contention that Wal Mart officials were waiting to see which route the proposed US 13 bypass around Ahoskie would take before making a decision on its planned Super Center. That does make good business sense, but I was told that was never part of Wal Mart’s decision-making process.

Speaking of the planned bypass, does the plug being pulled on the Ahoskie Super Center now pour added salt into the town’s wound? Bypass or not, out-of-town travelers may have been drawn to Ahoskie if there was a Super Center here. Now without that possibility, the bypass, if built, would offer those same motorists a faster, less congested way to find the next town with such a retail giant.

To me, all of this goes hand-in-hand with a message I received back before Christmas. A close friend, who just happens to live in Bertie County, told me that the Ahoskie bypass wasn’t about US 13, but rather funneling traffic to US 17. He said it wasn’t about Ahoskie or Windsor, but rather about Williamston, Washington, New Bern and Jacksonville….all located along the US 17 corridor. That also helps US 64 (at Williamston), US 264 (at Washington), US 70 (at New Bern) and US 258 (at Jacksonville).

To further prove my friend’s point, I couldn’t help but to notice how many times Jay McInnis, NC DOT Project Engineer for the Ahoskie bypass, mentioned US 17 during a meeting earlier this month at Bearfield Primary School in Ahoskie. I was under the impression that the bypass was part of a larger plan to improve the US 13 corridor, but after hearing McInnis repeat his “17” message, it appears I’m all wrong.

If this is the plan….to funnel traffic to US 17….then Windsor needs to get onboard with a real bypass of their town. Just think of how that will allow shoppers, my wife and child included, to get to the new Williamston Super Center faster.