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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 9 years ago

Rail station on track

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by: Jenny Andreasson

Despite rumblings that developer Dan Bellows is planning to put a SunRail station in his nearby project, the original plan for Maitland’s station is progressing.

City Manager Jim Williams said Monday that construction on the station, to be built at the Northbridge Office Centre/Parker Lumber property, should begin in 2012 and should be completed in 2013. It will cost $3 million, with the city picking up 10 percent of the tab and the Department of Transportation paying for the rest, Williams said. The city would also pay about $5,000 for temporary parking before a parking garage is erected.

Councilman Phil Bonus was concerned that neighboring Winter Park would get a better deal, but Williams said Maitland would get the same concessions from Orange County, such as the ability to opt out after seven years if a dedicated funding source is not established.

Bellows’ mixed-use project, Ravaudage, is proposed to be built along U.S. Highway 17-92 in unincorporated Orange County, overflowing into sections of Maitland and Winter Park. Bellows did not return requests for comment.

Fingerprint readers

The Maitland Police Department has received a grant from the Department of Justice for $5,000 to purchase 11 fingerprint readers, which allow officers on the street to easily identify people. Previously, they had to rely on the address or birth date that individuals give them and physical features.

“A lot of people don’t tell us the truth and they lie,” Police Chief Doug Ball said. “There are a lot of 5-foot 11-inch guys walking around with silver hair and brown eyes,” he added, describing a few other councilmen as well as himself.

Ball said it will cut down on officers arresting the wrong people, which can lead to lawsuits.

Agencies such as Winter Park Police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office already have the technology. Ball hopes to one day equip every police car. Asked how long it takes to identify someone, he said “It is literally minutes.”

Drug ordinance working

Maitland’s prescription drug ordinance, which limits the sale of narcotics to 20 percent of all sales at city pharmacies, was approved on Jan. 10. Chief Ball says he’s already seen positive effects from the new regulations.

Last year, Ball told City Council that calls to the Maitland Prescription Shoppe, better known as Lamar’s pharmacy, were tying up officers. Between Jan. 12 and Oct. 25, there were more than 100 calls for service for complaints involving Lamar’s customers. There were eight arrests, including for forged prescriptions and obtaining prescriptions by fraud. In the same time span, the city’s other pharmacies, Walgreens and Publix, had 8 and 15 calls, respectively.

Since the city implemented the drug ordinance, Maitland Police have been called to Lamar’s one time, he said. He’s also been getting almost daily requests from other municipalities for the ordinance.

“It’s reduced tremendously the amount of people going to pharmacies requesting these types of drugs,” he said. “Maitland is becoming a leader with this.”

Federal agents have also made a visit to Lamar’s. On Jan. 25, Drug Enforcement Administration agents inspected the pharmacy after obtaining a warrant from a federal judge. Officials would not comment if the business is under criminal investigation.

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