Diane Paladi, an East Meadow resident who lives close by on Pengon Circle, takes regular advantage of the East Meadow ’s and ’s late hours.
But, it has also led her to notice increased safety issues in the two stores’ parking lot – namely panhandling and non-shoppers loitering in the lot. She said that “the parking lot is sleazy, slimy and disgusting.”
“It is breeding grounds for succumb, in plain English. Where else do you have 20 to 30 cars in a parking lot. They can get money from each one of them and then get their fix,” said Paladi of the panhandlers in the Walmart parking lot, noting that it “is a safe haven for the drunks and the people doing drugs trying to scramble up money because it is the only store open that late at night.”
A request for comment on the issue from and yielded no immediate response.
Shopping late at night two to three times a week, Paladi said that she has seen people drunk and “inebriated beyond belief,” homeless people sleeping on a bench inside one of the stores, and she has had people “sneak up” on her while near her car and ask for change -- attributing many of these issue to the late store hours and lack of security patrol.
“When you walk into a and you see two homeless people or drunks -- that is pretty bad,” she continued. “It is not a shelter. I don’t know how the store lets it go on. That is not somebody who really wants to shop… As a consumer walking around, I didn’t feel comfortable.”
Carol Vatter, an East Meadow resident in the same area as Paladi, said she has noticed an increase in small problems, including panhandling.
“There is a guy who sleeps right in front of all of the time,” she said. “I’m not against homeless people, but I just find it odd that this guy is always there. It just seems to attract a certain kind of element up there. I don’t see it in most of the other parking lots.”
Though Vatter said she usually shops during the day, she thinks people approaching her for change at night would bother her more. “Who wants to be approached all of the time with groceries in your hands -- you don’t know who these people are,” she added.
“These are things that spill over into the general community. These people go into the communities looking for change as well,” said Vatter, adding that someone searching for change broke into her car twice over the holidays.
Paladi added that she sees these issues trickling over into her neighborhood and adjacent businesses in the area, including the nearby 7-11. She said if and closed earlier, that could help solves some of the issues.
“Somebody should patrol the parking lot, whether by foot or by patrol car, and that doesn’t mean parking in the front with a spinning light,” she added.
Vatter said that more police officers on foot – not in vehicles – could help. She added that better lighting in the lot and security provided by the big box stores could also be an asset in preventing these issues.
“Taxes increase, but there is debris clutter and drunks [everywhere],” Paladi added. “How do you rectify this? I have been saying that I am not happy with this situation for months.”
Do you think the situation in the Walmart and Stop & Shop Parking lot is concerning? Tell us in the comments.