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Wal-Mart plan spurs worry over aquifer

Water emerged as the latest issue Monday night in the continuing plan to build a Wal-Mart in Alden.

A large manila envelope packed with a multitude of documents related to the Wal-Mart proposal was presented to the members of the Alden Town Board during the board's work session.

The most compelling of those documents stated that the Village of Alden's aquifer is located beneath the land pegged for the project by developer Frank Russo.

"There are only five aquifers in Western New York," Paul Pawlak, spokesman for Alden Residents for Responsible Growth, told the board. "What we are thinking is about as a non-issue is really an important issue. It seems like every document that we pick up has the word aquifer in it."

Documentation provided by the community group shows several correspondences over the years pertaining to past development projects and the village aquifer.

"The proposed subdivision will be located on land that has been identified as part of the recharging area for the aquifer that the Village of Alden depends upon for its portable water resource," reads a letter dated Sept. 22, 1999, pertaining to the proposed Lambert Drive area subdivision proposal, which was later denied.

Town Supervisor Ron Smith said he was aware of the existence of an aquifer because of his past experience with the town's master plan, but he was not aware it was an issue when it came to the proposed rezoning for the big-box store development.

"This is something that we have to consider," Smith said. "Certainly we don't want to have a negative impact on the village's aquifer."

Russo needs the proposed 90-acre site off Broadway for Wal-Mart rezoned. If that's allowed, members of the residents group say the only impact Wal-Mart will have on the small-town community will be negative, including water quality issues, the need for increased law enforcement and the character of surrounding neighborhoods.

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