Hyattsville residents ask Safeway to improve, not move their Hamilton Street store
Hyattsville residents say store should be cleaner, food should be fresher
Safeway representatives pledged to make improvements after more than 50 dissatisfied residents complained about the condition of the Hamilton Street store Monday night.
Filthy floors, litter in the parking lots and substandard produce were among the specific concerns residents wanted addressed.
"The place is so filthy," said resident Gloria Thompson. "Behind the Coke machine, there's filth ... underneath the card rack, there's filth. I picked up a zucchini that's squishy."
Gregory TenEyck, Safeway's director of public affairs and government relations, said the store was probably due for an overall upgrade some of which have cost as much as a million dollars but the company was unsure whether to continue investing in the Hamilton Street location or to wait on the possibility of a new, replacement Safeway store coming to a multi-use building in University Town Center, about two miles away.
"Unfortunately, that project has not moved forward," TenEyck said, explaining that the project's developers were having trouble obtaining financing. "We're truly stuck in a rock and a hard place."
But waiting for a potential new store wasn't an excuse for the dirt, Thompson said.
"That does not preclude you at all from taking soap and water, closing the store for a day, and scrubbing it from top to bottom," Thompson said.
Other residents agued that there was a need to keep the store at its current location, which is in walking distance for many residents and convenient for senior citizens.
While the ultimate fate of the Hamilton Street Safeway was still undecided, store manager Nikki Nell promised to immediately begin work cleaning the store. Nell said a recent humidity control problem may have been causing produce to spoil, but that it had been resolved.
Longer-term suggestions, such as repainting the lines in the parking lot to emphasize the handicapped zones and keeping the store itself on Hamilton Street, would be taken to Safeway's real estate committee and senior management for consideration, TenEyck said.
"I think it went well," said Councilman Douglas Dudrow (Ward 1) who organized the meeting, held at the old BB&T building near the Safeway. "I think they see that we would really like for them to stay and work with us."
Dudrow said he expected to hear plans from Safeway within the next few days, and said he hopes to work with residents to set up a task force to make sure information is getting from Safeway to residents and vice versa.
"Hopefully we can bring about some constructive changes, and we'll hold their feet to the fire if they don't," said resident Carol Kimbell.
Stuart Eisenberg of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation was more guarded in his optimism.
"It's cathartic to have these meetings. That's good, but until the information here is conveyed to a decision-maker, it's just catharsis," Eisenberg said.