CINCINNATI (WXIX) – The Shell gas station on Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine has changed its hours due to safety concerns.
Formerly open 24 hours/day, the gas station will now close nightly at 9 p.m.
Chris Zimmerman is COO of Gilligan Company, which owns the Shell location as well as 108 others across the region.
“We’ve literally run out of options other than closing the store when it gets dark,” he said.
Gilligan bought the location in 2006. Since then, Zimmerman says his company has done what it can do to maintain it.
“We had large issues with people panhandling, some trafficking on the lot, so we worked hand-in-hand with CPD to alleviate that,” he said.
The company installed a fence and surveillance cameras around the property shortly after acquiring it. Police have direct access to the cameras.
Zimmerman says the company also sometimes pays CP for private details on the property. But safety concerns began mounting a month ago.
“My director of operations started sharing with me her concerns with large crowds congregating on the lot, filming rap videos, brandishing weapons,” Simmer said. “When the police would show up they would obviously put the weapons away, and you were just dealing with a large unruly crowd of anywhere from 50-100 people, which is a large crowd on a convenience store lot.”
It’s a common sight on the weekends, Zimmerman says, but now it’s happening during the week sometimes too.
Zimmerman explains, with the shortened hours, some of the location’s former employees have resigned because they need full-time work. That, Zimmerman says, is the real tragedy in this situation.
He adds what the company doesn’t want to do is have to close for good.
“We feel that having the store in downtown, in OTR, is important for the community as a whole,” he said. “While most of our stores we operate are in the suburbs, we feel it’s in the community’s best interest to have these services down there, and so we are happy to provide that, but only if it’s safe for our employees and customers.”
John Donaldson is an OTR resident and property owner.
“It’s not the Shell gas station. Shell is not the source of the issue,” he said. “It’s the area and it’s pretty much been left lawless for so long and it’s out of control. I would just say it’s a shame that we have a business that is being forced to close at 9 p.m., we have people that have lost their income and the neighborhood is out without a gas station after 9 p.m.”
Zimmerman says solutions must originate from community leaders.
“It’s up to them to help mitigate the situation and realize what they’re doing in terms of costing people in the community their jobs and the services are now no longer available or available on a limited scope due to the actions of some of the people in the community,” he said.
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