Allentown growth: Good for business, bad for mischief

Growth good for business, bad for mischief

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo Police say Saleem Merukeb, 37, of Buffalo, is the victim who died in a shooting on Allen Street.

According to police, the two men got into an altercation, and that's what led to the shooting.

Merukeb was pronounced dead at Buffalo General Hospital.

The shooting happened outside of Frizzy's, but neither of the men was going to or from it, according to bar owner Marc Frisicaro, who feels strongly that this is a safe neighborhood.

"This gentleman wasn't in our bar. This gentleman wasn't in any bars or restaurants,” Frisicaro said.

He applauds his staff, who acted quickly to put the bar on lockdown and move guests to the back when they heard gunshots.

Despite the gruesome crime, Frisicaro feels the shooting had nothing to do with the growing party scene in Allentown.

"I live a half a block away. I can walk to work within two minutes. I built a home here. I have two small children, six and seven,” he said. “Allentown is a very safe place.”

The growing party scene, however, is exactly why Allentown Association vice president and co-chair of crime & safety Jonathan White thinks more mischief is making its way to the neighborhood.

"What we have begun to see is that we are drawing in elements of people in the early morning hours who are coming to Allen Street, not with the intent to patronize the businesses, but with the intent to cause trouble,” White said.

And the increased foot traffic, he says, is becoming a quality of life issue.

"They damage plantings. They urinate on people's houses and people's automobiles. They take things off of porches because when you're drunk at 4 a.m., it seems funny,” White said.

Frisicaro said the increase in people is most notable at the intersection of Allen and Elmwood, where police have begun monitoring pedestrians crossing the street when it’s particularly congested.

Buffalo Police added a detail in Allentown last year.

The problem, according to White, is that the narrow strip has too many bars, and while the growth is good for business, it's also drawing more people who are just looking to get in on the action.

"From roughly Elmwood Avenue to Wadsworth, there are 15 liquor licenses in that very concentrated area, and to put it in perspective, when I bought my house 25 years ago, there were four,” White said.

Both Frisicaro and White say the Buffalo Police Department has been great. They have a strong presence and work together with residents.

White says it's city leaders he wants to sit down with to talk about making Allen more diverse with retail and restaurants, and he’s hoping to halt two more pending liquor licenses.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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