By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice
During the City Commission Report portion of the Apopka City Council meeting, Commissioner Alexander Smith made a proposal that The Apopka Voice called for and endorses fully.
“I would like to propose that the City Council take steps to name a street after former Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith and after former Commissioner Billy Dean,” Smith said.
Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson was in agreement.
“Let’s find out the process from the county. I know it’s an arduous one,” he said. “And I’m fully in support of your thoughts and I think appropriately so. I think we just need to get the wheels started. One of the things I ask is… they both live in Errol and Rock Springs. Is there something we could do in the new development in Errol Estate? Possibly a new road named after them. I’m open for anything. Someone mentioned the road near Alonzo Williams Park. Can someone reach out to them (Arrowsmith and Dean)?”
“I know Commissioner Dean would like to have Central Avenue changed to Billy Dean Avenue and Commissioner Arrowsmith hasn’t gotten back to me yet, said Smith.”
“Okay, let’s put that in motion,” said Nelson.
In a two-part series published in February 2018, The Apopka Voice proposed that the community take a positive, proactive move to change the name of Forest Avenue to Billie Dean Avenue.
In many ways, Dean’s life and his emergence in Apopka politics run concurrent to the story of this historic road. Both Dean and his family weathered the racial tensions of previous eras. Like Forest Avenue, he has an iconic stature in Apopka.
Dean also has a lifetime of service to this community, and like the West Orange Trail Bridge that crosses 441 alongside Forest Avenue, he too was able to bridge the communities of Apopka – both north and south.
In April, Dean watched as Alexander Smith was sworn-in to Seat #1… a seat that he has occupied for three decades. Dean will begin the next chapter in his life after rising to vice mayor of the second largest municipality in Orange County, after becoming the undisputed champion of South Apopka, and after re-writing a family history that was nearly erased in the 1920s.
It’s not enough to send this man into retirement with a warm “thank you for your service,” and a party. He is the last of a legacy of longstanding incumbents, and these giants of Apopka politics are not to be forgotten. They are to be revered and remembered timelessly. Dean is a legend who replaced a legend (Alonzo Williams) on the Apopka City Council.
Now Apopka should replace the name of Forest Avenue with Billie Dean Avenue.
Arrowsmith too is an iconic figure in Apopka politics who worked with legendary Mayor John Land on the City Council for nearly 40 years and helped guide the growth that saw Apopka go from a small town on the outskirts of Central Florida to a booming city both in population and economic development. The Apopka Voice wholeheartedly endorses the proposal that a prominent Apopka road be named in honor of Arrowsmith’s longstanding commitment to public service in the community.