Wal-Mart getting super-sized treatment

By: Eric Laughlin, Telegraph Correspondent
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Cheers and applause from the public erupted throughout Folsom’s city planning chambers last week as the news became official: Folsom will be getting a Super Wal-Mart. All five of the city’s planning commissioners voted in favor of the renovation and expansion of Wal-Mart’s Riley Street store, which first opened nearly 20 years ago and has gone through little changes since. The new store will grow an estimated 78 feet in the rear area, or 27,000 square feet altogether. Such an area was actually left open with expansion in mind back at the time of its 1992 construction. To protect privacy of nearby residents, there will be a 10-foot masonry wall installed, and a major landscaping overhaul will bring new trees and bushes to the front of the store, particularly along Glenn Drive. The expansion is expected to add 85 jobs to the store’s current 200 worker team. An estimated 30 of those 85 will work the graveyard shift, as the store will be open around the clock. Prior to the final vote, a dozen or more area residents spoke to the commissioners and all of those were in favor of the expansion. Rex Madsen said he and his wife were thrilled they would be getting a Super Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart’s one of the best examples of free capitalism in our country,” he said. Others voiced support for the retail chain for its involvement in the community, particularly schools and the Folsom Pro Rodeo. Fifth-grade teacher Aaron McDonald of Carlson Elementary said his students have benefited greatly from Wal-Mart’s donations of school supplies. “And it’s not just one school, it’s every school in our area that’s getting help from Wal-Mart,” he said. William Sanders spoke as a representative of nearby Steve’s Pizza, and said Wal-Mart has been a great anchor for nearby businesses, creating more foot traffic in the neighborhood. He projected an even bigger spike in growth following the expansion. Though none who spoke were against the plan to expand, Russ Cunningham, who lives with his family behind the store, questioned the height of the wall and the traffic created by a 24-hour operation. He said he’d like to see the wall more like 15 to 20 feet tall and said he thought an around-the-clock operation would draw more “riff raffs” to the area. A city official later reported that a higher wall would clash with Folsom’s code requirements geared to protect aesthetics. Store manager Keith Johnson said the 24-hour operation will cater to hospital and prison employees who work odd hours. The plan also comes with a restriction of the store’s freight delivery schedule. Trucks will only be allowed into the docks between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Super Wal-Mart have generally been referred to as a Wal-Mart and a grocery store combined. The grocery department addition will come with a major interior renovation to the current building.