The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News December 9, 2005

Construction of Wal-Mart Underway

If you drive along Route 20 toward 58, a road running south through Oberlin, you will eventually come to what looks like a pile of dirt. With woods to the north and an abandoned business across the street, the closest residents are three quarters of a mile away. What’s not apparent from this ostensible molehill is the mountain it is destined to become: Wal-Mart.

So for anyone who’s still wondering whether the big-box behemoth will actually come to Oberlin after all the controversy and negotiations, the answer is official: yes. The private contractors for the construction job, KS Associates in Elyria, broke ground on the site five weeks ago. Since then not much has happened.

“Mostly [they’re] just shoving dirt around and trying to get the contour of the site as it needs to be,” said Oberlin City Manager Rob DiSpirito.

DiSpirito confirmed that the contractors “came in for all the required permits” and will “abide by soil erosion control” requirements. No particular problems have arisen for the city since the groundbreaking.

Because the project is being handled by a private company, DiSpirito could offer little specific information about the construction process. It’s not even known when it will end.

To DiSpirito’s best knowledge, the contractors were hoping to open the store by Sept. 1, 2006. Daniel Gardner, current city council president, gave a conflicting estimation — sometime in Nov. 2006.

As for the city council’s general interactions with the contractors, Gardner suggested there would be very little communication between the two agencies for much of the coming year.

“If they fall behind, we don’t get notification of that,” he said. “At this point it’s really all an administrative matter up to and including when they open the store.”

Apart from construction of the store itself, Gardner added, “The state of Ohio plans to make improvements to the intersection down there this summer, and Wal-Mart is paying for a goodly portion of [that].”

But the city council, it seems, will have little to do with that process.

“Our work is done on it,” Gardner concluded.

KS Associates, whose president, Lynn Miggins, could not be reached for comment and construction details, is a local company with four sectors of construction focus: transportation, government services, land surveying and land development.

“KS Associates provides site design services for residential, commercial and institutional buildings,” explains the Land Development page on their website. “We design sites that are functional for the use intended, aesthetically pleasing and economical to build and maintain.”

A slide show on the same page cycles through example photos: a generic super-center with a parking lot, a strip mall, a few residences and an Arby’s.

“We do land development work in many communities and have learned that despite similarities in procedures and issues, each community has its own special needs and concerns,” the website continues.

Part of the work of the coming months will be to observe the interactions between Oberlin’s needs and concerns and KS Associates.


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