By Tim Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Neighbors in the west end of Garfield Ridge took to the street
on Monday to vent their frustrations about crime some say is exacerbated by foot-dragging on the part of a local business.
The airing of grievances occurred at an outdoor meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, held in the middle of Neva Avenue, immediately north of Archer on Monday, Aug. 19. About 75 local men and women were on hand, filling every seat arranged on the asphalt.
Most of their ire was reserved for Walgreens. The pharmacy giant has a store at 7150 W. Archer, between Neva and Harlem.
“There have been issues with Walgreens’ parking lot,” said GRNW President Al Cacciottolo, who said the lot is home to “ongoing drug dealing” and was the site of two carjackings in recent months.
“We know that. The police know that. The people living here [in the 5400 block of South Neva] know that,” he said.
His assertions were confirmed by police, both at the meeting and in the release of information to the press in recent months.
Cacciottolo said that Walgreens has taken some steps to address the concerns, such as installation of security cameras and improved lighting. They were supposed to put in security, but they never did, he added.
“I’ve seen drug deals going on in Walgreens’ parking lot,” said a woman living close to the drug store. “We call the police, but by the time the police come, [the dealers and buyers] are gone. I can’t get a plate number because the deals happen so fast. I’ve seen it so many times.
“I can’t go to the drugstore at night, because I’m afraid,” she continued. “I work, sometimes ‘til 8 o’clock and sometimes have to pick up a prescription. I won’t go. I wait a day or two. I’m just sick of it. I’m sick of being scared. We had to put four cameras on our house, just to watch what’s going on. I watch the cameras from work. It tells me if someone is in my backyard, at my side door, whatever. But this is ridiculous. You should not have to do that.
“I am tired of this. I have lived here all my life and I live close to this parking lot. My grandsons come over to visit, but I won’t even let them walk to the drugstore. It’s ridiculous, and something has to be done. And we have to be the ones to do it,” she concluded, as her neighbors burst into applause.
Others criticized Walgreens for keeping its parking lot fairly clean, but failing to keep the grassy parkways on Neva and on Archer clean and mowed.
Although the meeting was adjacent to Walgreens, no one from the company was on hand to respond to the criticisms.
Cacciottolo said that he initially had been told that a store manager would attend and speak at the meeting; but that officials at Walgreens corporate headquarters vetoed the idea.
A Southwest Chicago Post request for comment from Walgreens went unanswered.
Cacciottolo said that 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares has met with Walgreens officials and continues to meet with them to address crime-related concerns in their parking lot. He urged all Walgreens customers who share his concerns to make their views known to Walgreens employees inside the store.
The next GRNW meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 at a site to be announced.
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