When a small town like Lady Lake considers a new business proposal, the town’s leaders must consider the implications of allowing Corporate America to overtake Small Town USA. If Lady Lake’s leaders approve this proposal, they are essentially saying a cheap cup of coffee is worth more than the blood, sweat, tears, pride and love generations of Lady Lake citizens and business owners have put into this town. I say this as both a local Lady Lake small business owner myself and as a long-time Lady Lake resident.
If the proposed Wawa at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and County Road 466 is approved, Lady Lake will become nothing more than Gas Station Central. We will have five gas stations in a one-mile span. Looking to the future, it is inevitable that a Wawa would eventually put the two small, family-owned gas stations out of business, resulting in the loss of another local citizen’s hard work and two more dilapidated buildings.
I also worry that the landmarks this town is known for, The Castle, the old white house built almost 100 years ago, will be gone, replaced with gas pumps and corporate greed.
How long will it be until the next bottom-line company comes in and wants to close the Orange Barn, cut down the centuries old oak tree at our local park, or take over the Lady Lake Log Cabin? Will our Christmas parade even exist with a gas station being the starting line of the parade’s route?
It’s no secret the intersection of 441/466 is already congested. How many more accidents will happen after a driver makes an illegal u-turn in an effort to fill-up on gas and hits a car with a mom and kids?
Lady Lake has already succumbed to the forceful hand of big corporations. We are supposed to be a “Tree City USA” town, yet acres of deforestation is occurring in the immediate future to make way for yet another shopping center just across the street from this very building. We must preserve some of the historically significant areas of our town.
Additionally, Wawa is already asking for rules to be bent for them. The lot Wawa is trying to purchase is not actually large enough to meet the minimum required set-back of 50 feet, as per Ch. 6-2. Their solution…convince the Town of Lady Lake to make code concessions.
Please, don’t let Wawa’s false promise of jobs cloud the decision. The employees gained at a Wawa won’t make up for the employees lost at the businesses impacted by the purchase.
Approving this proposal isn’t just a simple business decision to Lady Lake citizens; it’s a precedent that marks the beginning of the end of our small town. In the midst of rapid commercialization of our surrounding areas, I hope our town finds a way to maintain its values and historical significance.
Nora Choquette is a resident of Lady Lake.