WAL-MART Wall is just for division
Some officials say residents would like another supermarket in the township.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Township Zoning Inspector Michael Jr. says he's been hearing the same question over and over from township residents: What's up with the construction at Wal-Mart on Mahoning Avenue?
"It's my most frequently asked question in the last two weeks," Kurilla said. He said the residents want to know whether the construction is to expand the store into a "super" Wal-Mart that includes a grocery store.
A Wal-Mart manager, however, stressed that the store was simply constructing a wall between it and the Deals and Sears Hardware stores next door. The wall is about two stories tall and composed of the same gray stone blocks that line the bottom of the Wal-Mart store. There are no openings in the wall for doors or windows.
The store manager wouldn't comment further, and a company spokesman didn't return calls.
Kurilla noted that under township zoning regulations, Wal-Mart will not be allowed to keep trailers or trash bins behind the wall. He added that he believes the amount of interest in the possibility of a super Wal-Mart shows that residents are interested in having a new grocery store in the township.
"There are always questions posed to us as to when another grocery store is going to be locating in the community," he said.
There are three supermarkets in the township: Giant Eagle and IGA, both on Mahoning Avenue, and Rulli's on Kirk Road. In addition, there's an Aldi market on Mahoning Avenue, and Marc's discount store and pharmacy on Mahoning Avenue also has a food market section.
Township Trustee David Ditzler said residents have told him they want a new supermarket to encourage competition and help keep prices down.
"I think another grocery store would be good for the area," he said.
Trustees spoke with Wal-Mart last year about the possibility of expanding their Mahoning Avenue store to sell groceries, Ditzler said. "They told us at the time they were still evaluating the situation," he said.
Ditzler said he hoped the construction of the wall was a sign that Wal-Mart is interested in selling groceries in the township in the future.
Trustee Lisa Oles added that she wouldn't discourage any new business from opening in the township. She also stressed, however, that she wouldn't want any of the township's established supermarkets to be forced out of business by a new supermarket that opens in the area.