Updated:OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —
Osceola County is about to get very aggressive in its effort to clean up the tourist corridor on Highway 192.
A new ordinance approved on Monday will go after business owners who aren't taking care of their properties.
When Monica Jones' family opened the Golden Link Hotel in 1984, business along Highway 192 was booming.
“People were coming for the first time to see Epcot or for the first or second time to see Disney,” Jones said.
Tourists and loyal customers still come to the hotel, but their view isn’t so great on one side of the building.
Many of the properties around the hotel are in shambles. A facility next door rents rooms to homeless families, which is an atmosphere that's made it tough for the Golden Link to survive.
“We're just basically keeping our heads afloat right now,” Jones said.
Jones has set her hopes on a new ordinance that will go after rundown properties. Beyond what code enforcement already does, the new ordinance will focus on things like paint, signs and landscaping, and owners who don't clean up will be fined.
A federal grant has allowed the county to offer business owners up to $10,000 for repairs and a new seven-member board will oversee it all. It's the county's biggest move yet to revitalize an area that's vital to its economy.
“It rakes up about 40 percent of our tax base and a third of our employment base,” said the project manager. “So, it’s vital for us to do everything we can to help it thrive.”
What to do with business owners who don't comply and don't pay the fines is still in question. That will be the first order of business for the new board that was just created.