Orange County to bring more lighting to 'Greek Ghetto'
OCT. 12 UPDATE: Orange County Public Information Officer Doreen Overstreet confirmed that OCC officially approved the changes at its Oct. 6 meeting. Commissioners discussed implementing a Municipal Service Benefit Unit, which is a tax that usually involves neighborhood residents requesting more street lighting or drainage.
SGA President Cait Zona announced at the Senate meeting Thursday that more lighting will be implemented in the dimly-lit "Greek Ghetto" alleys.
At an Orange County Commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners discussed the lighting situation in the University Hylands area off Alafaya Trail across from UCF.
The apartments on Khayyam and Aristotle avenues, connected by Mendel and Socrates drives, serve as homes to six off-campus fraternity houses. The streets connect to form less than a quarter-mile radius around The Marquee apartment complex, formerly known as Sterling Central, which has become synonymous with crime around UCF. This area is commonly referred to as the "Greek Ghetto."
The changes, which would add more streetlights to the neighborhood, would not be effective until November 2016, according to OCC documents. Zona announced that the changes have been approved, but the Central Florida Future is still awaiting confirmation from OCC.
"The neighborhood lacks street lighting to deter crime. The process to seek street lighting is by ballot initiative to determine if the home owners want to incur the expense of street lighting," the Tuesday OCC agenda reads.
According to Orange County documents obtained by the Future, the sheriff's office responded to 17 incidents in the University Hylands area in 2014 — such as armed robbery, burglary and stolen vehicles — compared with 12 incidents in 2013.
In March, witnesses heard a man yell "brim blood" on Khayyam Avenue during an alleged shooting in front of the Phi Delta Theta house. The incident was possibly gang related, according to Orange County Sheriff's Office documents.
In February, sheriffs responded to a burglary call in an apartment in the same area. After the incidents, students expressed concern over their safety.
Ryan Hunihan, president of Beta Theta Pi, expressed that the crime around his fraternity house has affected the members' actions around the neighborhood, specifically at night.
"I think the crime around our house, as well as other fraternities, students and neighbors, is overall a worrisome thought," Hunihan said in a previous interview with the Future. "At night, you have to be careful, even if you are just walking to your car down the street; it's always in the back of your mind."
During her campaigning sessions last spring, then-candidate Zona emphasized campus safety as a main platform point, explaining that she had been looking into increasing lighting near the "Greek Ghetto," but that the requirement would require approval from the county and collaboration with homeowners. And before Zona, former SGA President Weston Bayes also addressed the need to add more lighting to the area, but, again, said the process would be a lengthy one.
Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_ or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.
Rachel Stuart is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.