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Letter To The Editor: Old Smith’s Building

on September 16, 2017 - 11:18am
By KATHLEENE PARKER
Los Alamos

Los Alamos’ take on the old Smith’s building is clearly that of a town not dependent on retail.

Why turn to the old standby of multi-family housing or offices – more of NOT developing retail – rather than what downtown really needs? Why do we endlessly try “to bring in new residents” considering the grim housing situation for those already here, or is that just herd instinct in a nation so infatuated by growth its been bankrupted by it?

And, why always the “glass half empty” attitude about our numbers rather than that we’re one of the wealthiest towns in the nation, exactly why our mailboxes are crammed daily with catalogs?

We move heaven and earth to build tourism – with its starvation wages and minimal returns –while ignoring that retail struggles because of those few merchants who still believe the customer is always wrong and that serving the customer's needs happens only when it's convenient and easy for the merchant. We also ignore the decades-old stark reality that folks drive off the Hill to avoid high grocery prices, taking other retail dollars with them.

Why does Los Alamos just assume that it is Smith’s right to perpetuate a near monopoly (outside of our wonderful co-op) by dictating who will occupy a major downtown space? Few “real world” communities would put up with that, particularly considering that without Los Alamos’ help the Marketplace likely wouldn’t exist. Of note, from my experience, Smith stores in Albuquerque--where there’s steep competition for grocery dollars--sell for a fraction of prices charged here.

We need an Albertson’s, a Whole Foods or a Sprouts and if all else fails, we should investigate the possibility of condemnation. Or, we should buy the building and sell it to whomever and for whatever purpose they might want it for or re-develop the land – keeping the beneficial use of bulldozers as an option – for the highest and best use and in ways that avoid our tendency toward “repurposing” already marginal buildings.

But whatever we do, let’s not let anyone in any way dictate anything about OUR downtown!

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