RIALTO - Now is the public's chance to tell officials what it thinks about putting a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the city.

A report on the environmental ramifications - everything from air quality to traffic - of the proposed store is available for public comment until July 2.

The 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter would be part of a 284,000-square-foot commercial center on Riverside Avenue south of San Bernardino Avenue.

A Lowe's home improvement store would replace the current Wal-Mart on Riverside Avenue.

The rest of the center housing the new Supercenter would have a gas station and at least two restaurants.

Although the new store and commercial center will bring the city jobs, Wal-Mart Supercenters are often a source of controversy.

Wal-Mart has been criticized around the country for what are perceived as unfair labor practices. Residents also worry that Supercenters take customers from small, mom and pop businesses.

"I don't look at it as a threat. I look at it as an avenue to bring people down Riverside Avenue," said Joe Flores Jr., president of the city's downtown Business Improvement District Association.

But large stores can have dramatic influence on the local environment and generate significant community discord.

According to the report on the proposed Supercenter in Rialto, the project would create more than 500 new car trips during the morning traffic peak, more than 1,500 during the evening peak and more than 2,000 during the Saturday peak traffic period.

The county Grand Jury has also investigated the effects of Wal-Mart on the area.

"We are engaged in an investigative effort to ascertain how a large retail business, such as Wal-Mart, affects the economic welfare of smaller businesses, as well as car and foot traffic in the surrounding area," reads a letter the Grand Jury sent to Rialto Mayor Grace Vargas in December.

Plans to build supercenters are moving forward throughout the state, including in Fontana, Redlands, Highland and Ontario, where a group has started a Web site called www.stopwalmartontario.com to put a halt to the plans.

But traditional Wal-Marts and the larger supercenters also have low prices, provide jobs and an economic boost to cities.

The Supercenter in Rialto should provide the city with $500,000 in sales tax revenue a year, City Administrator Henry Garcia has said.

People may have problems with Wal-Mart, but they sure show up to shop there in large numbers, said Rialto Economic Development Director Robb Steel.

Flores, also a local businessman, said downtown business owners will have to be creative and stress what they can offer their clients to make sure they can compete if the Supercenter is built.

Building a Supercenter on an open field and putting a Lowe's where the current Wal-Mart is would be preferable to allowing the area to turn into a bunch of strip malls, Flores said.

At Johnson's Hardware, a downtown business that dates to 1895, business went down for a few years after the nearby Home Depot was built, said Irma Lopez, the manager.

The new Supercenter doesn't scare her as much as the Lowe's that would replace the current Wal-Mart.

"That wouldn't be good news," she said.

Anyone who wants to review the environmental impact report should visit the city Department of Development Services or call the city at (909) 820-2525.