SUISUN CITY — Suisun City on Thursday entered the bell lap of its eight-year quest to bring a Walmart to a field near Walters and Petersen roads.
It broke ground for the construction of a Walmart supercenter building that is to open in spring 2015. About 50 people gathered for the ceremony as the southwest wind pummeled the 20-acre site.
Suisun City is counting on the $1 million or so that Walmart is to bring the city annually through sales taxes, property taxes and fees. The City Council used one-time money in recent years as what city officials called “a bridge” to avoid deeper budget cuts until the Walmart money starts coming in.
“Bottom line: The council’s strategy worked,” City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said before the ceremony began.
Walmart submitted its application to build on the Walters Road site in 2006. Some residents opposed having Walmart come to the city and to the Walters Road location. That led to lawsuits and opposition to Walmart as it tried to get the needed regulatory permits for the project.
Several speakers at the ceremony referred to the difficulties in bringing the project to this point. They stepped to a podium placed near a yellow bulldozer and a sign reading “Coming to Suisun City – Walmart.”
“We’ve had a lot of fourth-downs, one-yard-to-go,” City Councilman Mike Segala said.
Mayor Pete Sanchez fitted Walmart into a spectrum of city accomplishments over the past few decades, from redeveloping the downtown to bulldozing the crime-ridden Crescent neighborhood to establishing community policing to maintaining a volunteer fire department.
County Supervisor Jim Spering served as mayor of Suisun City from 1986 to 2006. No single project will have more impact on the city than Walmart, he said.
“The City Council stayed the course and I really can’t compliment them enough for their effort,” Spering said. “As many obstacles as they had, it would have been easy to walk away from the project.”
James Groh, regional marketing manager for Walmart, said a Suisun City store means local residents will no longer have to drive to other cities to shop at Walmart. That will save time, gas and money, he said.
“We know this store is going to create just over 300 new jobs in the community,” Groh said. “Many of these jobs will become careers.”
Fairfield got a Walmart supercenter in November 2010. Sanchez joined Fairfield Mayor Harry Price as a greeter on opening day. On Thursday, Price came to the Suisun City Walmart groundbreaking.
“Congratulations,” Price told the crowd. “A job well-done. The hurdles have been surmounted. Let’s dig some dirt.”
With that, local officials grabbed gold shovels and posed for photographs.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.