Editor’s Note: This is the 16th in a series of articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2016 that were the most noteworthy events of the year. The Apopka Voice will publish them starting Monday, December 26th and running until Sunday, January 1st. On January, 2nd we will publish a poll and let the readers decide on which story is the most impactful of the year.
First Published: November 18th, 2016
Alonzo Williams Park is getting a new community center building, thanks to a newly awarded $750,000 federal grant presented through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The long-awaited project will demolish the existing structure at Alonzo Williams Park, and construct a new community center in its place. The new building will be twice the size of the existing facility with more than 5,500 square feet, and feature a large meeting area, offices, activity rooms and a covered entry with a vehicle driveway. It will also include paved parking along M.A. Board Street and future parking adjacent to the facility.
“Thank you Team Apopka! More than a dozen dedicated staff members who work for the City of Apopka collaborated to pursue this grant opportunity, and I am grateful for their hard work,” Mayor Joe Kilsheimer said. “Alonzo Williams Park has the potential to serve many purposes for Apopka residents, from organized after-school programs to pick-up games of soccer and basketball. The new community center will enrich everyone’s experience and serve its surrounding neighborhoods for many years to come.”
The federal grant is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which provides between $18 and $26 million in federal funds each year to benefit local governments.
Construction of the new facility could begin next year, according to a press release from the City of Apopka.
Pastor Hezekiah Bradford, President of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, was ecstatic with the outcome and commended the City for its perseverance.
"I would like to congratulate the City of Apopka for not giving up," said Bradford. " (City Administrator) Glenn Irby and his staff are to be commended. This is really going to be a major plus for South Apopka. Hopefully citywide events can be held at this location after the new community center is completed."
Apopka businessman Rod Love believes it is a great first step, but it will take the people of Apopka to tap its full potential.
"The $750,000 State of Florida award for the renovations of Alonzo Williams park is great news for the residents of the community of Apopka," said Love, the co-chairman of the Community Task Force on Violence. "Bricks and mortar will set the tone for the foundation, what strengthens it must be a total community effort, working with the City of Apopka, law enforcement, faith and community leaders, but most importantly, working with the people of the community to ensure maximum utilization of this facility."
Alonzo Williams is a three-acre facility with multi-purpose fields, outdoor basketball courts, a softball field and a playground. Earlier this year, it also received a separate $50,000 grant through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program to improve its recreation areas.