Updated: December 13, 2019 10:09 AM
Created: December 12, 2019 11:34 PM
ALBANY - The bright neon sign in the window says "Open" for business, but according to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the Delaware Grocery at 36 Judson Street, on the corner of Second Street won't be open much longer.
"The residents asked that we close this store," Sheehan confirms.
The mayor says the corner store has become a crossroads of criminal activity, pointing out there have been three fatal shootings in the last year alone on the streets outside the mom and pop mini market.
Hundreds of glass encased sidewalk candles are still flickering following last week's latest murder.
"We're not accusing anybody of committing any crimes who own the property," Sheehan insists, "But that property has become a magnet for trouble and the owner has been unable to prevent that from happening."
That's why Sheehan became one of many West Hill Neighborhood signatories on a petition declaring the deli a community nuisance.
"It's heart breaking," says Joyce Love, a city council member representing the Third Ward. "We deal with it every day. They want our help, they need our help and their children can not go outside an play."
According to Jahmel Robinson, who represents the Fifth Ward on the Common Council, businesses like the Delaware Grocery illustrate a systemic issue that has plagued the community for generations.
"We the community of West Hill are tired and fed up of establishments that have created a culture for criminal activity to thrive and survive," he says.
Meanwhile, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins calls the closing of the corner store a critical first step in the city's crime fighting strategy.
"We've devoted so many resources to address this issue," Chief Hawkins points out, "We're hearing things anecdotally and we're seeing data that shows a number of these incidents of violence have originated from activities in this location."
Activities that have apparently forced a difficult but necessary decision.
"When you're taking away a corner store, a resource for people, that is convenient for them, I want to insure that we aren't punishing the wrong people," Sheehan says.
The mayor says she's looking at a number of other properties were similar issues exist and where if business owners are unresponsive, there are likely going to be additional shut downs.
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