A worker outside Family Dollar in downtown Westbrook steps out of what appears to be a protective suit about 5 p.m. Tuesday. The worker tossed it into the trash container. Robert Lowell / American Journal

A rodent problem forced the temporary closure and ongoing cleanup this month of Family Dollar in downtown Westbrook.

The city has posted a “dangerous building” sign outside the Main Street store.

A “dangerous building” sign is posted on the door of Family Dollar. Robert Lowell / American Journal

“The Family Dollar building was posted as such due to a pest issue. Once the situation is addressed, the operations could then resume,” Jennie Franceschi, director of Planning and Code Enforcement, told the American Journal in an email March 22.

On Wednesday, when asked to specify what kind of pests forced the closure, Franceschi said, “The pest is rodents, and just to clarify the issue is specific to the Family Dollar leased space that is temporarily closed to the public.”

She did not immediately respond to a follow-up phone message asking specifically if the pests were rats.

The building owner is actively addressing the matter, according to Franceschi.


That’s all city officials are disclosing on the matter.

“I’m not going to give you an official statement,” Mayor Mike Foley said Wednesday.

Other city officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The American Journal on March 24 under the Freedom of Access Act requested the city provide copies of emails and other correspondence relating to the pest issue at Family Dollar. Foley said the city received the request and would respond to it within five days. The newspaper had not received a response by its press deadline Wednesday.

Robert Burnham of Westbrook, an employee at another downtown store, said Tuesday he has witnessed a number of pest control workers at Family Dollar along with other workers wearing what he called “hazmat suits” entering and exiting the store.

Material being removed from inside Family Dollar is being put into a dumpster placed outside Family Dollar, Burnham said.


Entrance to the Westbrook store, 880 Main St., is located on the alley street across from construction of the four-story, municipal parking garage. In another construction project near Family Dollar, a section of Main Street was dug up last year to relocate water and sewer pipes.

The retail chain store, popular with shoppers, carries a variety of household goods including grocery items, toys, clothing and personal products.

Mery Simonds, identifying herself as Family Dollar store manager, posted comments on Facebook March 3 about the store closure, but did not mention pests or rodents.

“Just wanted to officially let the public know the Westbrook Family Dollar is closed until further notice. … No, there is no current re-open date. There’s many repairs that need to be done and cleaning before we can open our doors again,” she wrote.

Simonds did not respond to an American Journal message seeking further comment about the situation at the store.

Construction supplies in the store’s foyer, visible from the street, on Tuesday included several sheets of plywood, tubes of liquid nails and tools.

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