The news about Walmart delaying its groundbreaking in Milton has Santa Rosans choosing sides.
The delay has bolstered comments from several sides.
There are those who want to see a Walmart come to the Milton area, as well as those who’d rather shop at the Pace Walmart and others who would rather stick to the mom and pop shops.
The Press Gazette learned last week that Walmart decided to pull the plug on their proposed Milton store for at least another year.
The news, rang well with some Santa Rosans, and not so well with others.
Jonathan Hartley of Milton said that he doesn’t want to see another Walmart in Santa Rosa County.
“We have plenty of good hardware stores here already, all we need is an Ever’man or Publix,” Hartley said.
Others like Elyse Winters who lives in Pace said it would actually be beneficial for the area, even though she doesn’t live in Milton.
“I would say it’s a good thing…more jobs right?” Elyse said. “And we surely need that here.”
For those who live in East Milton, a Milton Walmart would almost be considered a blessing.
Melanie Bell, who lives in East Milton said that the store would save her a long commute to Pace to go shopping.
“(It) would be great for those of us in East Milton and beyond to have something closer than Pace or Crestview,” Bell said. “It doesn't mean you have to shop there if you prefer local. I personally shop as often as I can at places like Hall's Hardware & Lumber and The Grocery Store to support locally owned businesses.
“A Walmart in Milton would likely bring other businesses as well which would be great for our local economy.”
Walmart met with the City of Milton back in 2007 and purchased property on Highway 87 North just south of Whiting Field. According to the City of Milton planning and zoning director Randy Jorgenson, the retail giant has already pulled sewer permits on the property and Florida Department of Transportation permits. The retail store still has a development order in place until November 2014.
Kara Dixon, who lives about a half an hour north of the Pace Walmart said that having a mega store closer to her house would make it easier on her gas budget.
“Being on one income, we shop there (at Pace), and having one closer to home would be great,” Dixon said. “If prices were cheaper elsewhere we would shop there.”
Others like Deborah Callaway Mason of Milton said lower prices would still not influence her to shop at the superstore.
“I’d rather shop our local stores we have,” Callaway said.
Keri Litchhult who doesn’t even live in Milton, said that when she thought about moving to the area, not having a superstore was one of the selling points.
“When I was thinking about moving down there, one of the key factors was that you didn’t have a Walmart,” Litchhult said. “Stick with mom and pop stores.”
Despite what many said, Don Ciesiolka said that jobs really seem to be the bigger picture in the Walmart epidemic.
“I say do it Walmart….they will have to hire a lot of people, hundreds of people who need work will once again be able to get back and join the workforce,” Ciesiolka said. “Why does Walmart keep putting it off?
“We don't want it, we need it.”
Others like Gerry Swetsky said it could be bad for the smaller stores in the area.
“Be warned, if this happens, it's a death knoll for locally owned businesses,” Swetsky said. “It happened in my home town in Pennsylvania.”
Despite the delay, with the development order still in place, Walmart can come build at any time until 2014, even though they are taking a short break.