Neighbors push New Bern Walmart to clean up

sbarr@newsobserver.comAugust 24, 2013 

— A community group concerned about the appearance of the Walmart Supercenter on New Bern Avenue is pleased that store managers have begun to spruce it up.

Residents call the mulched medians, outdoor garbage cans and repainted parking lot lines that have appeared recently a welcome sight.

“The way Walmart goes, New Bern Avenue goes,” said Dora King-Morgan, one of the organizers of the community group, Citizens and Businesses for a Green, Clean, Safe and Prosperous New Bern Avenue. The group focuses on the stretch of New Bern that runs from the Beltline to Knightdale.

The store occupies such a large slice of real estate that the group says it’s critical that Walmart be a leader in keeping up its physical appearance to encourage other businesses in the area to do the same and to keep residents shopping in the area.

The group credits store manager Edwin Otieno with responding to their concerns after they began emailing corporate officials earlier this summer.

“He’s attempting to turn it around, and we’re going to make sure he turns it around,” King-Morgan said.

Otieno became manager of the store eight months ago and started making changes to improve its appearance. He said the neighbors’ input has been helpful because it helped him identify additional areas that he didn’t realize were the store’s responsibility, such as certain medians, and gave him a sense of what neighbors expect from the store.

“They feel happy to come shop with us now because it doesn’t look unkempt,” he said.

Otieno said he’s also working with nearby business owners to keep up the overall appearance of the shopping center.

Each month, the New Bern group awards one business a donated planting from Taylor’s Nursery in recognition of those that are making an effort to maintain clean, orderly businesses.

In addition to working with businesses, the group also is lobbying city officials for more bus shelters, sidewalks and crosswalks to improve safety along New Bern.

Barr: 919-836-4952

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