• Plan to make neighborhoods, businesses in Pine Hills safer

    By: Karla Ray

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Pine Hills business owners could get a boost to help make the neighborhood safer.

    Eyewitness News has reported before about the ongoing effort by the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Office to increase patrols in Pine Hills following shootings there in late 2016.

    The owner of Play Palace Daycare sees a bright future for the inside and outside of her business.

    “People like to go to places that are nice, well-done, well-kept, well maintained and we'd like to make our place a lot better,” said Carolyn Keys.

    She hopes to get a boost from the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District. The county group just submitted a list of initiatives to bolster businesses with help of $125,000 from the Crime Prevention Fund.         

    “When an area is declining, deteriorating physically, it makes it more vulnerable to criminal activity,” said Lavon Williams, manager with the Neighborhood Preservation.

    Williams credits the renewed push to address infrastructure with a recent focus on crime.

    Eyewitness News has reported in the past how homicides in Pine Hills has increased by 60 percent since 2012.

    The money from the fund will help pay for things as simple as street lights, to individual business improvements video doorbells, to help prevent robberies and in some cases, entire security systems.

    “That's our goal to move the community in a different direction,” Williams said.

    But neighborhood improvement means more than just safety upgrades. Another major initiative for the Neighborhood Improvement District is to help dozens of businesses expand.

    “It would enable us to be able to go from 36 children to up to 75 or better, which would improve the center itself,” Keys said.

    The Neighborhood Improvement District will be opening up the opportunities to businesses in the next few months.

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