Board to decide Orange Park motel's future
ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Should a local motel that's been labeled a crime hot spot by police be shut down? That's the question Orange Park board members will ask themselves at a public meeting Monday night.
Town leaders say the Rodeway Inn on Park Avenue has a history of being a home for illegal activity. The town manager said police have had to respond to more than 300 calls at the motel since April. Police said they've been there more than 1,600 times in the past two years.
The nuisance abatement board will decide Monday night what to do with the property and could order that it be closed because of the continued problems with crime, especially drug activity.
"Our police force has brought this to our attention for a number of years. This is a problem that has developed over a long, long time," Sam Garrison, Orange Park's town attorney, said.
Garrison said that's why the town's person-person Nuissance Abatement Board is meeting. The board, which has the motel's future in its hands, declared the property a public nuisance in February, demanding the managers fix the crime problem.
Police said that in the past two years officers responded to the motel 1,600 times for calls including:
- 199 family or neighbor disputes
- 83 warrants
- 59 assaults
- 35 drug activity complaints
- 6 sex offenses
- 3 stabbings
- 3 shots fired
- 2 rapes
Rick Patel, the motel's owner since 2004, admitted that there are problems, but he said he does his best to prevent them.
He said crime is an issue as a whole in the area and it is not just at his business. He's asking for people to understand that he is trying his best, but sometimes he just can't prevent what happens inside the rooms.
"(The town) told us to do some jobs around the property for security systems," Patel said.
Along with 32 cameras that cover every corner of the property and streams directly to the police department, Patel said he's also had newer, brighter lights installed all over the property at the town's request. He said they also built a fence to block off the nearby woods and with the new security measures there has been a noticeable difference.
"Yes, we noticed a difference, big time. It cut it down quite a bit," Rodeway Inn General Manager Mike Patel said.
The Patels feel like the motel is important for the community but Garrison said that something needs to change.
"I think they have been operating in good faith. We have been working with them for a number of months to try to fix this problem, but the problem hasn't stopped. So if there are other ways to fix the problem, we are all ears. We just want the crime to stop," Garrison said.
The Nuissance Abatement Board meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Orange Park Town Hall. Rick Patel and the Orange Park chief of police Gary Goble plan on speaking. The public is welcome to attend and make comments.
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