Super Wawa – Update

This weekend was a busy weekend on the Super Wawa front.  I saw a handful kids handing out “Say No to Super Wawa” flyers (I assume they are with the Conshy Golden Bears), I saw the first yard sign and I had a flyer stuck in my door when I arrived home (at least they didn’t put it in my mail box).

Please consider this if you plan to attend the meeting tonight at the Fellowship House at 7:00 p.m.  This meeting was initially organized by the people from Super Wawa.  They are a major business that would like to open/invest in our community.  Whether you love or hate the idea, lets give them a fair shake, consider how it may impact the community and follow the law.  If we don’t, the next business considering opening in Conshohocken may just look at what happened in this case and decide Conshohocken is not even worth the effort.

Somehow I have been labeled both pro and con on this issue, which is interesting because I benefit from the small businesses in town.  Big chains are never going to advertise with me, so its in my best interest for the small businesses to flourish.  I just want an honest debate and hope I can provide information that helps everyone decide for themselves.  However, I am not going to take the statements from both sides as fact.  I will ask questions.

Late last week I spoke to one concerned restauranteur and he was able to obtain an official statement from Gregory FCA Communications, the anti-Wawa group’s public relations firm.  The statement reads:

“Concerned Conshohockens Against More Traffic

Our position regarding the proposed Super Wawa on Fayette Street between 11th and 13th Avenues is that while we would like to see the former Moore Chevrolet location put to good use, a Super Wawa will have a significant negative impact on the safety, health, and well-being of the Conshohocken community.

First, the proposed Super Wawa will draw significant amounts of traffic into a residential neighborhood. Fayette Street is snarled with traffic already. The addition of a massive convenience store/gas station like a Super Wawa will extend that traffic to the north end of town. Plans for the Super Wawa show one of the main parking lot egresses directly onto 11th Avenue, directly into a neighborhood with homes, ball fields, etc. The safety of our families and children is at risk. The current zoning for that property is residential/office. Clearly the zoning code did not envision this particular use, and for good reason.

Then there are the other issues that make this a deal breaker: the loitering and other late-night activity that Super Wawas attract; that the opening of a Super Wawa will mean the shuttering of other local mom and pop businesses, many of which have been there for generations and many of which will remain closed for the foreseeable future; the cannibalization of one of the Conshy Golden Bears’ primary sources of revenue (concessions); light pollution into the neighborhood surrounding the location; etc.

We have nothing against Super Wawas. It’s just the fact that this location is not a good one for this use. There are too many negative impacts on the fabric of the Conshohocken community.”

Does it really read “Dear Conshohockens”?  “Conshohockens” just doesn’t sound right.  Lets have a poll.  Vote to the right on how residents of Conshohocken prefer to be referred to.

And is a Super Wawa really going to destroy the very “fabric” of the Conshohocken community?  I have a feeling this was probably said when 7-11 opened.

The most important thing said in the statement is in regards to zoning.  It is not zoned for a Super Wawa.  The question is whether the zoning officials will adhere to this or not.

I then asked who were the main organizers of this effort.  Here is what I received back:

“Mo Chaker, owner of 7-11, and Bob Wilson of Bob Wilson Gulf are the primary Conshohocken business owners who spearheaded the initiative.  Both of these businesses are located in the borough, employ numerous Conshohocken residents, and have been in the borough for generations.  Since the initiative launched just over a week ago, we have over 200 concerned residents supporting our cause on Facebook, and over 100 have either signed petitions or voted against the Wawa in online polls such
as the one on your website.”

My main problem with the statement is that the two main backers are businesses owners, yet the “small mom and pop businesses” that may go out of business are way down the list of concerns.  Guys, if you are concerned about going out of business if a Super Wawa comes to town, everyone will understand that.  People may even  support this effort on just that alone. Put that right up front, because this is why you are hired a lawyer and PR company…to stay in business.

Please do not use traffic, loitering and “light pollution” in your argument.  Your businesses are part of a three block area that includes (all on the same side of the street) gas stations at Fayette and 5th, 7th and 8th and a 7-11, plus an ice cream shop, diner, Chinese take-out and sandwich shop.  Isn’t that about the same footprint and services proposed by Super Wawa?  Based on the provided statement traffic is already “snarled” on Fayette Street, where your businesses are located.

See everyone tonight.