CLEVELAND - Residents in the Cudell neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side are concerned about crime — and are blaming a convenience store for many of the issues.
The Dairy Mart on West 89th Street and Detroit Avenue has had more than 50 calls for service in the past year, according to police records.
“Drugs, guns, nuisance, loitering, prostitution,” said Anita Brindza, executive director of the community development group Cudell Improvement. “The inside of the store I believe is under control, but the outside of the store is totally out of control.”
Brindza said that the owner signed a formal agreement to make improvements when he took ownership of the store in January 2017 but has not lived up to his end of the bargain.
The franchise owner of the store, Shadi Murra, told News 5 that he has done everything he can to make the area safer, adding that the blame is unfair.
“We cleaned the store as they wanted, we made all the repairs as they wanted, we added the lights, we added security, we give police access 24/7 access to the cameras, we have a security guard on premises from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. I mean what else can I do?” Murra said. “They’ve been blaming the store for the past 30 years.”
Residents said the main issues take place in the store’s parking lot, calling it a magnet for crime in the neighborhood.
“We do not want to shut it down, we just are asking for reasonable hours and for security and even the parking lot to be developed in such a way that people can’t speed in and speed out with their drug deals,” said one resident.
Posted signs say “No Loitering” but videos and photos shared with News 5 show people hanging out in the parking lot at all hours of the day and night.
It’s why resident Nikki Hudson started a petition on Change.org, asking for the 24-hour convenience store to close overnight.
“We’re hoping that by shining a light on the problem, that change will happen,” Hudson said. “There are people openly selling drugs at all hours of the day and night, and we as neighbors, we’re fed up with it. So we’re looking to find a solution to the problem.”
Murra said he will consider closing overnight but does not believe that will help.
“You cannot change a whole neighborhood by a one-man operation, it’s crazy,” he said.
Cleveland Police told News 5 they are aware of the issues and sent the following statement:
“The District Commander is aware of the issues in that area and is working with community leaders and residents to identify and solve the problems together. A coordinated enforcement initiative has commenced in that area that includes officers from the NICE and Gang Impact units as well as district detectives.”
News 5 crews did notice an increased police presence in the area.