“The owners of the Plaza make a lot of money from the many businesses that are here, but they have yet to put some of that money back into improving the infrastructure,” Avella said. “The potholes, street collapses, uneven patchwork, litter and grease stains must be addressed.
“I am calling on all of the owners to come together with members of the community to finally resolve this situation,” he added. “It’s hazardous, unsafe and unsanitary.”
About a decade ago, Mitchell-Linden Civic Association President Arlene Fleishman was severely injured when she stepped into what she thought was a minor puddle, but turned out to be a deep pot hole in the parking lot. For the past six years, she has been fighting vigorously for improvements.
“I thought I stepped into a puddle but it was a hole,” Fleishman said. “I had to wear a brace on one foot and a shoe on the other for six weeks.”
After her injury, Fleishman successfully sued Pathmark and began her campaign to see through improvements to the lot.
One construction boss who uses the parking lot as a mobile command center for his workers in the area said he was happy to see someone photographing the detritus in the lot. He pointed to a pile of trash next to his truck and said that while he makes sure his workers don't dump, he's seen local police officers, who also use the lot as a stopover, adding to the piles on their lunch breaks.
Several other Pathmark patrons commented on the pothole problem following Avella's press conference.
Avella said that he inherited the Pathmark Plaza in a 2012 redistricting, and it has been an uphill battle since that time to try and get in touch with the five owners of the property, only one of which has to date agreed to sit down and talk about issues with the parking lot.
Beyond trash and potholes, a major concern is the volume of truck traffic using the parking lot as a layover, and as a result, says Fleishman, “You can't see where you're going when you're backing up or coming out of your spot.”
“I have suggested numerous times that they designated one area for truckers,” she said. “They haven't done it.”
She also reported having to call the police on multiple occasions to confront prostitutes who walk the lot.
Rufus Owens, who has been living in the neighborhood for 46 years, while supportive of the Pathmark's role in the community, was critical of the conditions.
“We need this store in the area and they do a good job, but they need to help build a better road [surface],” Owens said. “You walk out here and you might get killed. I've seen so many accidents.”