The price of progress? The new Costco excites some, causes environmental concerns for others

Large+construction+equipment+and+piles+of+dirt+dominate+the+site+where+a+new+Costco+store+is+under+construction.+Many+in+the+community+have+expressed+dismay+that+so+many+trees+were+sacrificed+to+make+way+for+the+warehouse+store+that+will+open+in+November.+

Photo: Emily Latham

Large construction equipment and piles of dirt dominate the site where a new Costco store is under construction. Many in the community have expressed dismay that so many trees were sacrificed to make way for the warehouse store that will open in November.

By Drew Fannin, The Flyer Staff

As the new Costco store prepares to open this fall near Kettering, many residents are torn about the environmental cost versus the economic boom that the warehouse-style store will bring to the community.

Costco, a membership club similar to Sam’s Club, originated in 1976 and now has hundreds of locations worldwide, although this is the first store in the Dayton area. It is being built at the corner of Wilmington Pike and Feedwire Road, and it’s projected to open in November.

Costco will be the anchor store of a new development called Cornerstone of Centerville, which is being built on the site of the former 270-acre Dille Family Farm. The Dille property included a  6,202-square-foot mansion, a three-car garage, a pool, barns and more than 7 acres of woods.

Among those concerned about the new Costco is Fairmont English teacher Josh Oliver. As the adviser of the school’s Earth Corps Club, he says he was dismayed by the destruction of the large wooded area that fronted Wilmington Pike.

“When I first saw the trees gone, I felt shock and great sadness,” said Oliver, who added that he couldn’t help from thinking about the homeowners across the street from the construction site. “If I’m used to waking up and looking at acres of trees, and all of the sudden I’m looking at mounds of dirt, I would be waking up crankier.”

Although it will be beneficial, the cost outweighs the benefit. It’s a perfect example of habitat destruction.”

— Senior Emma Keller

Fairmont senior Emma Keller has her own take on the construction of the 148,000-square-foot warehouse store. “The area used to be very scenic, especially during the summertime,” Keller said. “We have plenty of stores in our area. Costco isn’t needed.”

Both Oliver and Keller, however, admitted that the new addition will be good for jobs. “Although it will be beneficial, the cost outweighs the benefit,” Keller said. “It’s a perfect example of habitat destruction.”

On the other hand, Centerville Economic Development Administrator Nathan Cahall is excited about Costco and the other businesses that will be drawn to the development.

“Since Costco has already attracted a lot of interest, the Centerville community and economy will hugely benefit from the store,” Cahall said.

In addition to tax revenue from Costco sales, many point to the approximately 200 employees the major retailer is expected to hire. And Bloomberg BusinessWeek says Costco employees make an average of about $21 per hour, compared to about $12 for Walmart workers.

But Emily Newman, who teaches IB Environmental Systems and Societies at Fairmont High School, isn’t nearly as excited about the development.

“We have so many other places to shop, we don’t need anymore options,” she said. “I probably won’t shop at Costco. I don’t think it will be something I’ll ever go to.”

Newman also pointed out the negative effects of deforestation. “The loss of the forest is a loss for the production of oxygen, soil nutrients and photosynthesis,” she said, adding that the commercial buildings and the traffic also will be polluting the air.

It’s a struggle all too common in today’s society:  Preserving nature while progressing economically. But the choice is simple for some.

“What used to be there was a lot prettier to look at,” Newman said. “It’s the last thing we need in the Dayton area.”