The Walmart parking lot in Williston, N.D., and the many people that have lived there during the past three years have been featured in the New York Times, CNN, YouTube, NBC and countless other regional, national and even international media organizations.
The parking lot has been called a “mecca” for job seekers and Williston’s “pioneer square,” and has become notorious by longtime locals and newcomers alike, the Williston Herald reported.
For many who have come to Williston seeking a new job and a new life during the past few years, it is one of the first places they go — with a camper in tow.
A section of the parking lot used to look like a trailer park. Every long-term trailer has been removed.
The parking lot has been the site of a continuing conflict of trailer owners moving in, being ticketed and ordered off by law enforcement, sometimes moving out, and others moving in a constant ebb and flow.
Most Walmart stores around the country are more lenient with trailers and recreational vehicles parking overnight. The Williston Walmart has not allowed trailers to park overnight for some time. During the past year, store officials have routinely called police to come and ticket and tell those in the campers to leave.
By the next day, however, a new group of campers arrives, and the process begins anew.
At least, it used to.
Walmart has also hired a parking lot security guard, who was patrolling the lot Wednesday in a small SUV. The security guard wouldn’t answer any questions about his job or the removal of the trailers, but his presence seemed to coincide with the lack of campers.
“All I can tell you is I can’t say anything and you’ll have to talk to a manager,” he said.
Last year, the store installed height-restriction barriers on the entrances to the parking lot to prevent semitrailers from parking there. Until then, the store had been troubled with dozens of oil trucks and other 18-wheelers using the parking lot nearly every day.