Pine Hills group aims to beautify and unite community

Community meeting held to improve perception of Pine Hills neighborhood

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Concerned community members in Orange County’s Pine Hills neighborhood held a meeting on Thursday evening to tackle violence and improve the public’s perception of the neighborhood.

The Pine Hills Safe Neighborhood Partnership acted alongside the Robinswood Community Improvement District at Barnett Park.

Rosemarie Diehl, the group’s chairperson, said she wants people to be proud of their community.

“A person takes pride in creating something, and then they will be more involved,” Diehl said.

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Diehl said the group would like to transform areas of Pine Hills along Colonial Avenue into a new retail and restaurant district.

“We are trying to get Colonial revamped and built up and be recognized. There is a lot of real estate out there that’s not being utilized. It’s underutilized. The faces of the building should be updated and improved. We need to be like Orange County all the way around,” Diehl said.

A representative from Orange County also showed the group renderings of new Pine Hills neighborhood signage.

Community members in attendance said following the shooting deaths of a young woman, a 9-year-old girl and an Orlando TV news reporter, they are motivated to change the perception others have of their West Orange County neighborhood.

After working as a retail manager in Pine Hills for four years, Felicia Hunter said large parking lots without proper lighting attract criminal activity. Hunter said she even called the Orlando Utility Commission herself and got new lighting for the store parking lot.

“If you take time out to just find little, small things, you can do it yourself instead of always wanting the mayor to do it or another county commission,” Hunter said. “Basically, try to get everybody together as one and also find out how important Pine Hills to everyone.”

The community group also said they plan to speak with the Orange County Public School Board regarding grant and scholarship opportunities for Pine Hills area students. Residents also expressed the need for more parenting resources and youth mentorship programs.

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Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.