“Everything’s out of whack”: Parramore Oaks residents raise concerns about community safety

ORLANDO, Fla. — A shooting at a Parramore area park Wednesday left neighboring residents concerned about safety in their community.

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, at least five gunshots were heard inside Z.L. Riley Park in Parramore.

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No injuries were reported from the shooting, but at least one resident says now, she’s simply scared.

“I thought it was right outside of this wall,” said Tiffany Hughes, whose office sits just steps away from the park. “To keep myself safe, to keep the office safe, definitely in the afternoon time, we just lock the door.”

Checker Park, once the home for many of the area’s homeless, was cleared during construction, and in 2019, the mixed-income housing unit called Parramore Oaks opened its doors.

“Everything is getting out of whack,” Parramore Oaks resident Paris Johnson said. ”There’s drugs everywhere.”

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Johnson says the new complex has actually added to the safety issues in the community.

“In the stairway, we have homeless people. The gate is constantly being broken into, and I don’t feel safe,’ Johnson said. “Three or four days in a row, there’s always some shooting.”

The district’s commissioner, Regina Hill, released a statement in 2019 when the complex opened, saying, in part, “This is going to be the anchor of the southside of Parramore. It brings about community pride, because now you have safe, adequate and beautiful housing.”

I have been adamant about developing affordable housing in #District5 and with the vision of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer we...

Posted by District 5 Commissioner: Regina Hill on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The city invested millions into the property, owned by Invictus Development. Hill says she’s been trying to work with Invictus to “make sure that the promises made to this community are followed through.”

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A spokesperson for Invictus Development also released a statement saying they’ve reached out to the residents for feedback on their safety concerns and have implemented some additional security measures.

City officials say, from now on, there will be security at Riley park from sun-up to sun-down.

See Invictus Development’s full statement below:

“Regarding our follow-up conversation with respect to tenant safety concerns, this development was setup with key fobs for secured entry, 64 security cameras throughout the property monitoring 24/7, gates that are locked and outfitted with alarms that go off when they are propped open, and many other features to ensure our residents are safe. We have solicited feedback from residents and implemented additional measures to increase their sense of security (for example, installing mirrors in corner to allow a view of someone coming around the corner.”

—  Paula Rhodes, Invictus Development

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Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.