Lights to be added in Winter Garden parking lot after attempted carjacking

City officials hope residents will feel safer

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Ellen Boeddecker, 20, sometimes mans her mom's wellness shop in the heart of Downtown Winter Garden and said she usually feels safe, except when she has to dart back and forth to car.

"It can be a little scary at night," she said.

She parks in what she said is a dark lot behind the shop. It's a parking lot behind a doctor's office on the corner of Joiner Street and South Woodland Road in Winter Garden.

"It's kind of dim," Boeddecker said. "Especially in the parking lot. There are more lights on the street out here and more on Plant Street, but back behind where Joiner (Street) is, it's a little less lit."

She said she feels less safe after hearing a 72-year-old great grandmother and her 21-year old roommate were attacked in an attempted carjacking Saturday night. 

"I was surprised because I haven't heard of anything that severe," Boeddecker said.

News 6 emailed each of Winter Garden's city commissioners and Mayor John Rees. Rees responded within minutes.

"I talked to the city manager and they will come back to me with a recommendation or what their thoughts are," Rees wrote in an email.

A reply from city manager Michael Bollhoefer followed the next morning.

"It's pretty dark," Bollhoefer said. "News 6 had contacted us and they had mentioned that some of our merchants over there thought it was dark in the parking lot, so we went out to the site last night to make sure to take a look and we realized that some of the lights weren't operating."

Bollhoefer said he and the police chief went to see the lighting situation for themselves and realized that street lights operated by Duke Energy were out. He also said there are two flood lights between two buildings, but neither face the parking lot where the attack happened. He said the city will be adding one there.

The city manager has a meeting with Duke Energy on Friday to see how they can expedite the process and get those lights up before anyone else is hurt there.

"You brought to our attention which enabled us to do this," Bollhoefer said. "We will add the lights and I think it will make everyone feel much safer."

About the Author: