EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - Some East Cleveland residents have concerns about the future and the safety of their now closed Dollar General store on Euclid Avenue.
The store was gutted by a fire on Jan. 28, and residents are wondering if the burned-out store has created a potential safety hazard, or if the store will ever reopen.
Susan Solhjoo, who shopped at the store every week, told News 5 the store was left wide open for nearly 10 weeks after the fire.
News 5 found the privacy fence placed around the gutted store had been breached, and none of the major openings of the store were boarded-up.
Solhjoo is concerned the store has become a safety issue, and is wondering if the store will ever be rebuilt.
"Yes it should be boarded up, and everything removed immediately," said Solhjoo.
"The city says it's not their responsibility, so what do you do? The people in this neighborhood depend on this, we need it."
Black on Black Crime Inc. President, Al Porter, agreed the unsecured store is a safety concern, especially with dozens of school children walking by the store daily.
Porter is also concerned East Cleveland could lose a critical retail outlet if Dollar General doesn't rebuild.
"So many children that we witnessed, just by being out here for a short time, who are constantly passing this structure," said Porter.
"If this store doesn't reopen it will be a big loss. A lot of disabled people and citizens, they would not be able to get out and take care of their needs close by."
News 5 started contacting Dollar general headquarters about citizen concerns on April 2, and the company issued the following statement:
"Customer and community safety are priorities at Dollar General. We are actively with our landlord partners to properly secure the East Cleveland location as we continue to evaluate the store’s future."
However, News 5 was on the scene on April 4, and found vagrants inside the closed store, going through hundreds of items that were still on store shelves.
We contacted the company again on April 6, and a short time later large sections of the store were finally boarded-up.
Dollar General would not confirm if the store would be re-opened in follow-up emails to the company.
Four attempts to reach East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King did not produce a return phone call or email about the on-going situation.