LOCKPORT – Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said Wednesday at a Town Board work session that construction bids are due for the planned new Walmart supercenter and that work could begin in October, more than nine years after the project was first proposed in early 2004.
He said he was informed by a contractor performing site preparation work that the retail giant’s request for bids from contractors was due Wednesday or today.
The 185,000-square-foot store, combining a full-service supermarket with a regular Walmart, would replace a smaller Walmart located about one-quarter mile from the supercenter site on South Transit Road.
The new store – much delayed by lawsuits, red tape and most recently sea gulls – is to be built on the site of the former Lockport Mall, most of which was demolished in 2011. The only remnant of the mall is the Bon-Ton store, which remains open and will share a parking lot with the new Walmart.
In the past two construction seasons, efforts to start work have been delayed by thousands of sea gulls nesting on the site. They used to nest atop the mall and kept coming back after it was torn down.
Walmart hired Buffalo Exterminating to use nonlethal methods of discouraging the birds from staying there. They are believed to have been attracted by several fast-food restaurants in the vicinity.
Walmart spokesman William C. Wertz said, “It looks like the steps we’ve taken to discourage sea gulls from nesting on the site have been effective. We’re in the process of finalizing our plans. We’re hopeful we can conclude the bidding process and move ahead on construction of the new supercenter within the next few months.”
Smith said he and town Economic Development Director David R. Kinyon would like the board to spend $3,000 on a full-page ad in a magazine distributed at the International Association of Shopping Centers’ winter conference, where the town has sought new retailers for the past few years. “We’re pretty confident that Walmart is going to get started, and this is a great opportunity to tell people about ‘shadowboxing,’ being in the shadow of Walmart,” Smith said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Smith said Daniel Dodge, the town’s new director of operations, will start work Sept. 3.
Dodge will be paid $58,000 a year. He had been Village of Middleport coordinator since 2007. In Lockport, he will be in charge of parks, water, sewer, street lighting, and buildings and grounds. He was appointed at the Aug. 5 board session.
Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon told the board that repair work on a sewer line collapse and resulting sinkhole was to be completed Wednesday, with traffic patterns at South Transit and Robinson Road returning to normal. However, a sidewalk and grass will not be replaced until the repairs have three to four weeks to settle, he said.
The concrete sewer main, more than 40-years-old, backed up into nearby buildings July 25. The sinkhole opened July 29; the sidewalk collapsed July 30.
Klavoon said his initial repair cost estimate of $30,000 was too low because the work has taken longer than expected. The trench collapsed and a town water line broke Aug. 6, and the presence of a 30-inch county water main slowed work.