Owner and City At Odds Over Shopping Mall Safety Concerns


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) A strip mall in Hazleton is getting a lot of attention these days  from shoppers..
     And it’s not because of great bargains or the ambience at the mall  It has to do with safety.
     City officials say they are concerned and have cited the owner. As the I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick explains, the owner is fighting back

Disgusting and sad.
That’s how some shoppers describe the condition of the Hazleton Shopping Center on West Broad Street in Hazleton.. The concrete pillars falling apart and there is a lot of trash in the parking lot, both in front and behind the strip mall.

“It’s deplorable. I mean there is so much garbage all over. It’s sad because once you let one thing go its going to get worse. It’s not going to get better.” said Linda Troutman, of Gordon.

“It really needs to be fixed up. It’s been like this for quite a while. Who wants to come here if it looks like this.I’m kind of afraid.” added Brenda O’Donnell of Hazleton.

Hazleton City officials agree and want the mall repaired and cleaned up..

“We’ve issued noticce of violation we issued citations . We took them to the magsitrate’s office. They have just failed to respond or abate the situation.” said Said Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat.

But the owner of the shopping center is firing back.. Eyewitness News talked to Ed Coss on the telephone- He says the damaged pillars are the result of vandalism.. vehicles backing into them and the drivers leaving the scence..

“What we want everybody to know is there is no public safety here. These pillars are supported by columns and just because thney look ugly right now they are in the process of being reconstructed.” Said Coss.

As for the large amount of trash and debris. Well, Coss says much of it is being blown onto his property from a nearby restaurant and there is illegal dumping taking place here.

“People like to discard garbage here.They like to use other people’s dumpsters. They like to dump tired. We can’t be here 24 hours a day but anytime we do see trash we make an attempt to pick it up.” noted Coss.

 Coss told Eyewitness News  he will fight the citations in court..
     He faces thousands of dollars in fines.
     Mayor Cusatt says he just wants the issues resolved

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