husband," said Jannise Nagle, a Fountain Valley resident, as she walked
out of the store on its opening day with her son Jaedin, 7. "He liked all
the games on the way out, I think we wasted $5."
Wal-Mart opened its doors at 8 a.m. Monday after finally receiving the
certificate of occupancy from the city Sunday evening.
The store's opening was delayed because of a missing metal railing for
handicap access in nearby Lambert Park. That railing, and a final check
to ensure all electrical systems and fire codes were up to date inside
the store, caused a delay and a monumental public outcry.
But with the store open at last Wal-Mart officials hope to put that
all behind them.
"We're excited about the store and hopeful that whatever disagreements
we had with the city are behind us and now will move forward," said Bob
McAdam, Wal-Mart's vice president of state and local government
Wal-Mart has spent more than $1.5 million on items, per the city's
demands, to shield residents in the surrounding neighborhoods from any
possible negative impacts of the store, McAdam said.
Some of those conditions city officials asked for include shielding
light coming from the parking lot, making sure the lights are turned off
when the store closes at 10 p.m. each night, installing high walls,
posting signs along the property restricting campers parking overnight
and making sure bordering homes have double-paned windows installed.
Surf City was torn by seven years of debate over the store that nearby
residents thought would ruin their quality of life, and that school
district officials who owned the land felt would be a financial coup.In
March 2000 voters defeated Measure I, an initiative meant to block
construction, by a slim margin.
The school district owns the property and is expected to reap $400,000
annually leasing the property to Wal-Mart.
The income will be used for school facility improvements such as new
carpet, wiring and repairing rundown classrooms and gymnasiums.
Many residents were angered over the delayed opening and the city's
refusal to grant the company a contingency bond while work was completed
due to the loss of sales tax revenue and what many call an
"anti-business" attitude in Huntington Beach.
An analysis done by Los Angeles-based Keyser Marston Associates Inc.
shows that the city is expected to receive about $400,000 annually in
sales tax revenue from the store.
City officials said the money would go toward many projects varying
from sports and recreational facilities to a senior center.