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Police, city officials swarm Candlelight Oaks - to find out how they can help
BEACON PHOTO/BARB SHEPHERD
Here to help — Ten City of DeLand vehicles, including six marked police cars, converged on Candlelight Oaks in DeLand's Spring Hill neighborhood this afternoon. The officers and officials were there to ask neighbors what the city can do to make the neighborhood safer.
Building bridges — DeLand Public Works Director Demetris Pressley, second from left, also a member of the Concerned Clergy Coalition, speaks with officers of the DeLand Police Department and members of the Candlelight Oaks neighborhood Feb. 13 before going on a walk through the troubled area. This was the first of several such walks designed to build relationships with residents, according to City of DeLand spokesman Chris Graham. Those who took part in the walk — including police officers, other city officials, and members of the DeLand Dawgs football organization, Minority Elected Officials, and the Concerned Clergy Coalition — asked residents what changes they would like to see in their neighborhood.
PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF DELAND
Residents of Candlelight Oaks and their neighbors did a double take on the afternoon of Feb. 13 when 10 City of DeLand vehicles, including six marked police cars, pulled up en masse at the entrance to the neighborhood off West Beresford Avenue in the Spring Hill area of DeLand.
But the officers were not responding to a crime. Instead, they were there to find out how the city can help residents who have complained recently to the city about drug-dealing and wild street parties in Candlelight Oaks.
They were accompanied by members of the Concerned Clergy Coalition, representatives of the Minority Elected Officials group, and the DeLand Dawgs football organization.
“It was about creating a relationship with the residents, and introducing them to the officers … building bridges,” DeLand spokesman Chris Graham said.
In November, two men were shot and killed at a Candlelight Oaks street party.
Twice, Candlelight Oaks residents have come to DeLand City Commission meetings to plead for assistance, saying they feel frightened in their own homes.
About 5 p.m. Monday, groups of officers and others from the three volunteer groups could be seen going door to door, getting to know Candlelight Oaks residents and surveying them about what the city can do to make the neighborhood safer.
Graham said most of the complaints heard in the group he accompanied were about speeding and other traffic concerns.
“We had one person who said that they don’t feel as safe as they used to,” Graham said.
This was the first walk city officials and related entities have taken in the neighborhood — but it will not be the last. Graham said the city is planning at least three more similar walks over the coming months.
— Barb Shepherd and A. Janell Williams