No Costco photo in the Ridgeland city magazine


No Costco photo in the Ridgeland city magazine
Thu, 12/08/2016 – 3:01pm by William Jeanes

My Ridgeland magazine rolled in the other day, the one covering December 2016 through my birthday month of February 2017. It has a picture of Santa Claus on its cover. Santa is in the rear seat of a festive red convertible, surrounded by presents.

Jumping to the obvious conclusion, I eagerly thumbed the issue seeking information about Operation Santa Claus, the name given to the selfless efforts of our mayor and a majority of our aldermen to gift our deficit-ridden city with a Costco store.

This new retail establishment, complete with its metal siding, incorporates what some experts believe may be the state’s largest service station, plus enough fast-food joints to provide hangout space for every bored teenager in the tri-county area. But guess what? Not a word in the magazine about this landmark-to-be. Not a sentence saying that our elected officials are yet again obligating millions of our tax dollars in a municipal bond financing scheme that mirrors one done up the road. That one, putting it charitably, didn’t work out for the taxpayers.

As the cynics among us might expect, there were no photographs of the forthcoming Costco building, which company officials and a majority of our city governors say will harmonize with the handsome Renaissance shopping area just to the north.

Harmony, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And it may be that, to some observers, a building with metal sides and nine dozen gas pumps harmonizes with the neo-Italianate Renaissance structures. I am not among those so generous. One man’s beauty mark is another man’s wart.

Citizens of Ridgeland can of course take a longer view and think of the Costco project as being like Clark W. Griswold’s Jelly of the Month Club – the gift that keeps on giving.

We can look forward to round-the-clock vehicle traffic. Costco typically restocks after dark, using large 18-wheelers. The firm says it will use smaller trucks because Highland Colony Parkway was not built to serve large trucks. We’ll see.

Another lasting gift will be new traffic signals made necessary by Costco’s arrival. A new signal is already on its way to the intersection of Old Agency Parkway and Highland Colony Parkway. Coincidentally or not, this is immediately across the street from the new Costco.

I use that intersection on a daily basis, and I know that a permanent nightmare lies in my future, as it does for every resident of every neighborhood located to the west of Highland Colony Parkway.

You would think that the two or three thousand affluent taxpayers out there might raise some objection to the Costco project. Some few have. A lawsuit is pending alleging impropriety in the zoning charade that permitted Costco in the first place. Mostly they sit there and take it.

Some residents who would normally oppose the project have been silenced by threats of client defections, which is to say loss of income. Others have been told that they might lose influence or position that they value. Still others have had friendships threatened.

These are no small items. And if I am to believe my interpretation of texts, emails, and conversations, they are real.

All for the sake of shoehorning a big-box retailer and a clutch of hamburger stands into an area that all were told for many years would not see that kind of development. We’re lucky, I guess, that they didn’t decide to put a rendering plant or a siren-testing facility in there.

If you have the time and inclination, drive to Madison and see how that city handled its enormous new Sam’s Club. It’s first of all on the edge of what is not a high-end retail area – as Renaissance is – but most important is the access. The incoming and outgoing streets are impressively broad.

And there are lots of them. Furthermore, the store is not next door to neighborhoods in which citizens have major investments. And it does not have tin sides, as our Costco will. To be fair, they may be steel, but I say it’s a plaster-faced tin building that would never pass muster with Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler.

I associate two thoughts with the Costco circus. One is the shadowy image of Deep Throat, in “All the President’s Men,” whispering, “Follow the money.” The other is the commercial interpretation of the Golden Rule: “Those with the gold make the rules.” The first is sound advice; the second is a shame.

William Jeanes is a Northsider.