DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It is one of the most dangerous street corners in all of North Texas.
The corner of Bruton Road and St. Augustine Drive in Pleasant Grove is notorious for drugs, fights and shootings.
Over the years, the City of Dallas has tried curb the crime in the area that often takes place in the parking lots of the convenience store and the self-service car wash that are located on the busy street corner.
The Dallas Police Department targeted the area with automatic license plate readers and installed a surveillance camera on a street light. The city also denied the Adams Food Mart convenience store a permit to sell wine and beer.
Neighbors, however, said these efforts have done little to make the corner safer.
So the city now has a new plan. It is suing the owner of the self-service car wash.
“We can’t have people living in fear,” said Dallas Councilman Kevin Felder. “We can’t have that, so we are doing something about it.”
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Six years ago, Jerry Sliwa, 77, bought the self-service car wash in the 9500 block of Bruton Street as retirement investment.
“I didn’t buy the crime with the car wash. I just bought the car wash,” he told the CBS 11 I-Team.
Sliwa said he has done everything the city has asked him.
He put up cameras, extra lights, a fence, along with signage warning about loitering. Last month, he added a gate and started closing the car wash at 10:00 p.m. instead of keeping it open all night.
“Everything that they have asked us to do we have done except for a guard standing up there with a gun,” Sliwa said. “I can’t afford that.”
The city’s lawsuit claims the self-service car wash constitutes a “common nuisance” under the law for knowingly tolerating criminal activity and for failing to make reasonable attempts to get rid of it.
The lawsuit calls on Sliwa to hire a licensed armed security guard.
Two years ago, Sliwa did hire an armed security guard for his car wash and the guard kept crime away.
For the next nine months, there was no reported criminal activity at the car wash.
But at fifty cents a wash, Sliwa said, economically, it was not feasible to continue so he terminated the contract with the armed guard.
Six days later, a man at the car wash was murdered.
Felder said the city is prepared to shut down Sliwa’s car wash if he does not comply with the requirements listed in the lawsuit.
“When we have an operator that refuses to comply, we have no other choice,” Felder said.
The 77-year-old business owner told the I-Team he feels as if the city is blaming him for its problem of not having enough police officers.
According to the city’s latest numbers, the department is down more than 200 patrol officers from two years ago.
“That is a common defense but that is not true,” explained Felder. The District 7 council member said the criminal activity at the car wash was going on long before the recent officer shortage.
“The City of Dallas is going to do what it has to do to make that corner safe and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Felder said.
READ THE LAWSUIT HERE
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