It was an evening of give and take, back and forth.
"Let us show you what we can do," said Walmart spokesperson Lisa Nelson.
Nelson said this to the gathered crowd of citizens at the Oct. 10 public meeting the company held at the Four Seasons Mall where it would like to open a new Walmart Supercenter.
Walmart owns the 21-acre property off Highway 169 in Plymouth. It has not proposed a plan for the site nor has it submitted any kind of application to the city for working on the site.
And many of the public at the meeting were hard press to find a reason to want a Walmart at the redevelopment site.
Nelson said the meeting was a chance for Walmart to find out what people were thinking, their concerns, questions and use that feedback in creating any possible proposal or plan it could bring forth to the city.
On display at the meeting were possible site plans, how the property would look if Walmart built on the site and other visuals of what Walmart could bring to the neighborhood.
The meeting started out as an open house where people could walk around and look at the possible site plans and talk to project team members present. Then Nelson gathered people for a brief presentation that ended in an impromptu question and answer session.
Many of those present were skeptical of Walmart being able to build on the property and asked a variety of questions about traffic, safety, economics, storm water drainage, wetland work, spacing issues with parking and the site in general, proximity to the residential area, if there is a need for a Walmart at that location and much more.
Many people wondered why Walmart bought the property when the site is not zoned for that type of business. The Plymouth City Council would have to approve rezoning the area when or if an application is brought before it.
Walmart project team members said that the company looks at where there aren't Walmarts and determined it doesn't have much presence in the west metro. Since the former Four Seasons site had been a shopping center it is intended as such and lends itself to commercial retail, said Walmart officials.
Some of the public retaliated that the Walmart would serve everyone else except the neighborhood it was in. But Nelson said Walmart has a great track record as a responsible neighbor in many communities.
Council members Ginny Black, Bob Stein and Tim Bildsoe were at the meeting to hear what people were saying and find out more.
For Black, most of what she heard at the meeting wasn't exactly new.
"Since there is no proposal and nothing coming to city yet the next steps is for Walmart to take the comments from today to figure out what they want to do," Black said, addressing the crowd. "I suggest that those with concerns can work together to make sure you stay involved if and when anything comes forward."
Some people have asked why the city allowed Walmart to buy the property in the first place. Since it is part of the business of commerce like any city, there is nothing the city could do about who the previous owner sold to.
"Now like any other business they can go through the same process to move forward and we cannot deny or allow certain businesses to go through that process," Black said.
Some residents in the surrounding area of Four Seasons Mall said they didn't know about the meeting and weren't notified. Nelson responded that Walmart sent out mailings about the meeting to those in the proximity around the site that is required by law. The list of those residences were provided by the city, she said.
The public meeting had originally been set for Sept. 26 during Yom Kippur, but when one resident told Walmart this the date was changed to Oct. 10.
Though many present at the meeting expressed opposition to the mere idea of Walmart being at the Four Seasons Mall site, Nelson said she came away from the meeting with a feeling things could still work out for everyone.
"I think it was a good meeting and people were respectful," she said. "Now we can look at how can we work to meet the city's goals, the neighborhood's goals and our goals."
Some residents in their disapproval of having Walmart near them said the company was not looking out for anyone else's interests but its own.
"There is always a way to work together," Nelson said. "We could turn this into something special."
She did not indicate whether or not there would be another public meeting in the near future. The city held its own public meetings last fall during a study on what could be done to redevelop the site. Those details and studies involved can be found here.
(Editor's Note: This is one of a number of stories that have been and will be written about the future redevelopment of the Four Seasons Mall area on Plymouth MN Patch. More updates to this story are forthcoming and will be included here as further work and information develops and becomes available. To stay in the know and get updates: Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook or Sign up for our daily newsletter.)