Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series of interviews conducted by Patch with Shrewsbury's aldermen about the
It begins with a joint interview of Ward III Alderwoman Chris Gorman and Alderman Mike Travaglini. You can find most of Travaglini's quotes in a separate article running later Friday.
Patch: Overall, at this point what are your thoughts about the redevelopment as it stands now?
Chris Gorman: When you drive by that development now, it's scary. We have had some crime with the theater. Some of the buildings are just starting to look really bad. That hurts Shrewsbury, that's right at the entrance to that portion of the city. If we don't do anything, I am afraid this is just going to get worse.
Patch: So you would say then that you support bringing Walmart to Shrewsbury?
Mike Travaglini and CG: We support revitalization of that development. We support the project and that happens to include Walmart.
Patch: What's your reaction been to the controversy this has created?
CG: There are a lot of people out there who just don't like Walmart. The name just turns people off. No matter what, we can't stop those thoughts. We didn't have any say-so of who it was. Walmart was the only one who came forth.
I can only speak for myself, but at first when I talked to people about the development they were not too sure of it. Then when they heard in our subdivision that [Trianon Parkway] would be closed off, people then started turning their heads and listening more. That would make our area a lot more private, it wouldn't be a major cut-through anymore.
Patch: It closes off access to Watson Road, do you see that as a major inconvenience? What would you say to people who complain it will make it hard for them to travel into the city?
CG: We feel that too … but having it closed off outweighs the consequences of it being left open, like the crime and people cutting through.
Patch: What about in terms of the city's spending?
CG: A lot of people will say, 'You know, we have got to start cutting.' I don't know if you have looked at this year's budget, but we have already started pulling back and we have already have complaints about it.
We had to cut back on the pool hours and people were upset about that. I got a call just this week about the [removal of] doggie bags at the park.
We have great department heads who have done as much pulling back as they can. Now you are to the point where we are talking about major cut backs. People love our fire department and they love our police department. It's scary to think we might have to do something about that someday.
Patch: What are the factors that are entering to the city's declining financial state?
CG: It goes as far back as Grandpa Pigeons. It was a discount store and it was a huge source of revenue to Shrewsbury. We lost that [in the late 1980s].
Patch: The other part of this that has drawn some controversy is the developer involved, G.J. Grewe. What is your assessment of him and his company?
CG: This is the first time I have had to work with a developer like this. We haven't been the easiest board to work with, we have made some demands, changed our minds or come back with redesigns. He's worked with us and we've worked with him, it's been difficult on both sides. As long as we have something we can present to the community and be proud of, that's all we want.
Patch: What will be the long-term impact? Is this Walmart here to stay or will this be a problem again 10 or 15 years down the road?
CG: I think we are all going into this thinking it's going to be long-term.
Here's some background information on the redevelopment:
Plans and other documents can be found on the city's website.