Upwards of 100 people showed up for what became a heated debate Monday night in Merkel over the possibility of a Walmart store coming to town.
A public hearing was held at Monday’s Merkel City Council meeting to obtain public input on possibly rezoning the northeast corner of the intersection of the I-20 frontage road and FM 126 for commercial use from Walmart.
That land is currently owned by Taylor Telephone Cooperative.
Merkel City Manager Steve Campbell and a lawyer representing the Walmart Corporation were on hand as well as many Merkel residents.
Some residents were optimistic about the possibility of a new merchandiser coming to the area. They said their town, perhaps, needs such a change. Others expressed concern about a big corporation hurting local businesses in an already small community.
"Let's be real clear,” one woman said. “This is a Walmart Express. This is not a regular-sized Walmart. This is not a Walmart Superstore. They're not bringing anything to Merkel that we don't already have available right here, right now.”
"Our town needs change,” another man said. “I don't know if Walmart is the answer, but we've gotta start somewhere.”
"I think it would be a lot easier for all of us to just go to Walmart right here, realizing it's not gonna be a full-blown Walmart. It's still gonna be beneficial," said another resident.
Ultimately, the Merkel City Council delayed action on the matter Monday. The council will revisit discussion of rezoning the land on Friday. That meeting will be 6:30 p.m. An important note: It will be a public hearing, but it won’t be open for public comment.