By Greg Jackson
Beam me up Scotty
Can someone please tell me what the heck is going on with the City of Apopka because no one in City Hall seems to have a clue. Ahead of one of the largest, non-City supported music events intended to bring Apopkans and Central Floridians together in the midst of so much disaster and turmoil, the beautiful Apopka Amphitheater looks a mess, and the City has made zero effort to correct it.
At a time when money for breached contracts and run down parking lots is flying out of City Hall like hotcakes off the grill at McDonald’s on a cold Sunday morning or, a bat exiting a very hot place, one would think that Apopka would set aside some funds to fix up one of its most magnificent attractions at a time when potentially 3,000-plus cheerful and hungry souls will descend upon the Amphitheater for two separate events for a joyous time.
Instead, nearly seven weeks after Hurricane Irma, the Apopka Amphitheater still stands battered and bruised.
It is interesting because even Key West has been able to recover to some extent in preparation for its annual event, October Fest. In the words of many Apopkans who have seen what I am referring to, “It’s embarrassing.” With major acts, radio personalities, elected officials, business leaders, corporations, etc., flocking to Apopka for the Spirit of Florida Gospel Festival, as well as the Bar-B-Que Cook-Off, I cannot help but agree, it is embarrassing. If I can see that it is embarrassing, Apopka residents can see that it is embarrassing and Apopka businesses can see that it is embarrassing, why can’t the City see how much of an embarrassment its non-action is for Apopka?
And here is the more troubling question: why hasn’t the City done anything to correct this embarrassing situation before now?
When I first heard that the City staff was not going to make an effort to at least remove the tattered shreds of canvas blowing lifelessly in the breeze as it clung to the metal frame expansion across the stage area of the Amphitheater, I thought that I had slipped into some strange parallel universe where for laughs and giggles people say the craziest things. But, as the scent of decaying algae slipped up from the retention pond bordering the scene slapped me back to reality, I realized that this was no dream. While some may find fault with the City Commission, I do not, because the Commission only meets twice a month and there is only so much they can take on in their part-time roles. Conversely, I lay this mishap at the feet of the City staff and whoever they take directions from. In order to not appreciate the visual impact, and future implications this situation will have in Apopka, City staff is either blind, uncaring or standing in the middle of an empty field screaming “beam me up Scotty” as aliens attack — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.