BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — McDonald’s in the Woodlawn community recently closed due to persistent crime and vandalism. Now, community members are speaking out with concern.

Community leaders say there’s a dire need for their neighborhood’s concerns to be addressed.

Woodlawn’s neighborhood business president, Wayne Honeycutt, says the loss of their McDonald’s is unsettling, and that a lot of businesses are suffering due to the lasting effects of crime.

Honeycutt, who is a longtime member of the community said he can’t remember a time without the McDonald’s and that this loss is a big disappointment.

He said if the problems leading to this are not addressed, the community will only continue to see detrimental losses.

Honeycutt said he sees this specific loss as an opportunity to finally bring attention to the concerns they’ve been working to address for years.

“This is sort of like where the rubber hit the pavement,” said Honeycutt. “And so, we’re going to have to take some proactive moves that’s going to actually impact the way the environment is and what’s expected of our neighborhood.”

Residents like Audrey Patterson said the Woodlawn McDonald’s used to be a hotspot for meeting up with friends and making memories.

However, in recent years, Patterson said she hadn’t been to that McDonald’s because of what became of it due to various circumstances like continuous crime.

She said if we want to see change, this loss needs to be seen as an opportunity for action- that persistent problems in their community like homelessness and drug infestations need to be addressed.

“I just want to get the community where we can have love, peace, and happiness- everybody get along,” said Patterson. “You know what I’m saying? Pray for the people that’s not as fortunate, you know what I’m saying, instead of pointing fingers at them and talking about them. Hey, let’s pray for them and try to help them. Maybe we can get something done like that.”

Honeycutt said crime isn’t the only concern that needs to be addressed. He also called for action regarding drug infestations and mental health concerns in the area.

As for the McDonald’s location, Honeycutt said he would like to see another entrepreneur take over.

“Particularly, someone that can operate in the neighborhood that can service the people and be more familiar with our people,” said Honeycutt. “And so, I’d like to see an entrepreneur come in and make it a success because it’s a hot, hot corner and it will be susceptible whatever goes there.”

Honeycutt said he would specifically like to see mentorship programs become available, especially for youth. Overall, he said he looks forward to the future because he is confident change is coming.