Home Depot: It doesn’t add up
April 1, 2009
Last week we wrote about Home Depot from the point of view of the Silverthorne town government: that it’s more or less a done deal and the giant retailer’s smaller local competitors will need to figure out a strategy to survive.
We’ve had a number of thoughtful letters from readers questioning whether the town should be inviting Home Depot in at all; as well as from some who say they’ll be happy to pay lower prices for building supplies. Still, the negatives appear to outweigh the positives in our view when we consider the potential impacts:
– Damage to the foundational businesses that have been in Silverthorne for years, contributing to the tax base. There is no question Home Depot will have a negative effect on these businesses, and while that may be mitigated somewhat through superior customer service, the fact remains that long-time businesses will be placed under duress by Home Depot. Does the town have a responsibility to afford these foundational businesses within the community a measure of protection from outsized competition? We’d say yes.
– Traffic: Already, Silverthorne’s core and busy intersections are characterized by an extraordinary amount of traffic for such a small town. No matter what plans are put in place, Home Depot traffic will exacerbate that. If town government’s primary purpose is to improve the town and make it better for its citizens, adding to the town’s persistent traffic problems would seem to be the wrong direction to go.
– Tax revenues: No doubt town hall will find things to do with extra tax revenue, but since Silverthorne already has the outlets, a Target, an Office Max and many other small and medium-sized businesses, scrambling for more tax dollars does not appear to be the motivating factor here. So far, the town has done little to explain why the town needs an additional revenue generator of this magnitude.
– Appearance: Granted, the town already has a Target, but adding the Home Depot right along the Interstate would seem to throw any appearance of a “mountain town” to the four winds. How excited will people be to finally arrive in Summit County only to be greeted by the hulking image of the same Home Depot they passed 90 minutes earlier in Littleton?
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– Finally, what about the Blue River? Silverthorne’s Gold Medal trout stream, deemed the town’s “Main Street” the last several years, is already stressed by the runoff from the roads and parking lots along its banks, and adding Home Depot and its mega parking lot will only exacerbate the situation. Despite precautions and promises, it is inevitable that snow and rain will still fall on a parking lot coated with everything from transmission fluid and motor oil to magnesium chloride and wiper fluid. Some of that will make its way into the Blue. It has no were else to go. For a town that’s decided to make the river the focus of its town, it makes little sense to further threaten the Blue or the wetlands adjacent to it.
Silverthorne may see only dollar signs with Home Depot, and some will trade all of the above for cheaper prices. But the big picture just doesn’t seem to add up here, and the town needs to make sure the majority of its citizens are on board with this before they progress further.
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