In an attempt to gather input from the community, Fontana leaders on March 16 held a public meeting to discuss the proposed construction of a shopping center in northern Fontana which would be anchored by Walmart.
According to Orlando Hernandez, senior planner with the city, the meeting was the first of many steps before the possible beginning of construction of an approximately 244,000 square foot shopping center, which would be located on the corners of Sierra Avenue and South Highland Avenue, near the Route 210 Freeway.
“This meeting will give us an idea of the community’s concerns in regard to the environmental impact report,” said Hernandez. “The project is a long ways from happening."
In the EIR, the city would study impacts to air quality, biological resources, economics and job creation, flooding risks, noise, public services facilities, traffic circulation, water quality, sewage capacity, solid waste, and cumulative effects, among other factors.
The project would include eight parcels, including one of about 19.72 acres in which a Walmart would be constructed. The Walmart would be approximately 200,000 square feet in size and would offer groceries and general retail merchandise, including alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption.
According to city documents, the Walmart would also include an outdoor garden center and a pharmacy with two drive-through lanes and would house a car service shop.
This is one of two Walmart stores being proposed to be constructed in Fontana, with the second location proposed to be built south of Interstate 10.
Even though possible construction is a long way away and the City Council would first have to approve the project, members of the community and even State Sen. Connie Leyva expressed their disagreement on social sites, including Facebook.
“What value will this Walmart bring to Fontana?" Leyva asked. "Walmart will ask for tax breaks which will reduce or nullify any monetary benefit for the city; all workers will work for poverty level wages, which means they will need assistance from our social programs like food stamps. This project will also bring more traffic and noise to the surrounding community. I ask again, what is the benefit to the city and its residents? Let's skip the Walmart and work together to bring tech jobs, water jobs and transportation jobs to Fontana."
Meanwhile, area resident Caesar King said he worries about traffic congestion: “Are you kidding me? We have enough with those warehouses built. Walmart will bring severe traffic congestion to the Sierra Avenue entrance to the 210 Freeway."
Mustapha Rashid Alam, another local resident, also expressed concern. “Bad news. This is the type of project that will negatively affect North Fontana's properly value,” he said.
City Councilmember Michael Tahan suggested that residents express their opinions on the matter since “community involvement is key."
“The Council will not make a decision unless we have a complete package to review, analyze, and make a determination at the appropriate time. Until then, community input is important," said Tahan.
The comment period in regard to the scope and content of the EIR closed on March 22.
Fontana already has one Walmart, which is located at 17251 Foothill Boulevard.
In 2012, Walmart leaders expressed an interest in bringing additional stores to Fontana, and Mayor Acquanetta Warren said she wanted to consider the idea at that time, but after much discussion, the proposal was shelved.