BUFFALO, N.Y. - Fights in the streets, violent assaults, aggressive panhandling, and loitering all times of day...
These are just some of the issues business owners and residents in the Allentown neighborhood told 2 On Your Side is happening on Allen Street, specifically on the 3 blocks West to Wadsworth.
Mohamed Jaafar runs Allentown Pizza and he says, despite the increased cost, he and other business owners are considering hiring security on busy late nights, "3 days ago I had to call the cops 4 times in half an hour."
There were a number of business owners, who agreed with Jaafar, but didn't want to go on the record about their concerns for fear that it might negatively impact the image of the the Allentown neighborhood.
But leaders of the Allentown Association tell 2 On Your Side they feel it all needs to be talked about for the safety of visitors and the people who live there.
"It's really just become dangerous to be on the streets after 11:30," said Andrew Eisenhardt, Executive Director of the Allentown Association.
Jonathan White, the association's chair of the Crime and Safety Committee, worries this is driving people out.
"Over the last 20 years, we began to see a large increase in the number of families with children moving into the neighborhood. In the last two years, we have seen a significant exodus of families with children."
According to White, in the past two weeks alone, there were 10 assaults, three of them sexual assaults, and a number of thefts and robberies in the area of Allen and Elmwood.
We asked Buffalo Police about this, but all they would say is that the department increased patrols since last month and that police have made a number of arrests.
"We need the cops to be here especially on Friday and Saturday nights," said Jaafar, "until everybody's closed."
But the Allentown Association doesn't believe the problem is just rowdy partiers and panhandlers, nor that the solution is police enforcement.
They believe the problem is too many bars, which they say they brought to the attention of Buffalo city leaders last summer.
"We have made it clear to the city administration that it was only a matter of time until someone got killed," said White. "Well, last summer someone got killed."
"When I came here," explains Eisenhardt who also owns an antique shop in Allentown, "there were six or seven (bars) now there's 17. And that's all pretty much happened in the last six years."
White added, "That's just this section. Overall, in the neighborhood, in 32 blocks of Allentown, there are over 65 liquor licenses. The issue quite simply is that the city has allowed too many of them in a small concentrated area. Regardless of how good they try to be...if you bring five thousand people to a small three block stretch like this...there is no way that the best of business owners can make sure that the environment is safe."
The Allentown Association tells 2 On Your Side they want the city to stop issuing new liquor licenses for Allentown and reduce the current number of liquor licenses by attrition.
That would mean, if a business closes, they can't transfer that license to a new owner.
The association plans to have a community meeting to discuss this and other potential solutions to the safety concerns.