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Infrastructure and a lack of staffing are at the core of numerous problems in Apopka


Rod Olsen is a former HOA President of Rock Springs Ridge and an Apopka resident who often contributes his opinions at the Apopka City Council meetings during the public comments section and in frequent op/eds to The Apopka Voice. He spoke these words of caution to the Council at its May 1st meeting on a number of subjects, all leading to one solution—infrastructure and staffing.

City of Apopka’s Unsung Heros – our School Crossing Guards.  The importance of these positions in providing safe passage for our Children cannot be over-emphasized.  The relationships they have established with the Children and their Parents are inspiring.  I had the honor of filling in 13 times in April.  Children and Parents inquiring as to the absence of “our School Crossing Guard” speaks volumes as to these outstanding public servants' positive impact.  

As many as 1 in 3 Parents dropping off or picking up their Children are talking on the phone held in their hand. By law, drivers must be hands-free in school and construction zones.  

If a vehicle is parked across a pedestrian crossing lane, we, as adults, simply walk around the vehicle.  As a School Crossing Guard, we cannot allow children to cross even with a partially blocked pedestrian crossing lane because it is not safe.  

When the School Zone lights are flashing, the speed limit is 15 or 20 MPH, depending on the school in Apopka. Some vehicles are going over 40 in these School Zones.  

How ironic that, on my walk through the Northwest Recreational Complex (“NWRC”) earlier this week, I saw a US Infrastructure Company truck in the parking lot.

When you consider the following clearly demonstrates that the City of Apopka currently does not have in place the required Planning, Staff, and Infrastructure to effectively look out for our taxpayers’ best interests:

• The poor condition of the current NWRC multi-purpose fields, the increased usage, and the lack of Staff to take care of the fields properly. When the NWRC opened in 2006 we had 16 multi-purpose fields and 38,000 Residents. Now, in 2024, we still have 16 fields and 58,000 Residents. The current planned schedule of 2 new fields per year over the next 3 years is like putting a band-aid on an arterial bleed.  To properly rest and maintain these fields, we need 10 multi-purpose fields NOW!  
The poor condition of our streets that now have potholes in potholes and the need for sidewalk repair and mold removal – look at Vick Road as an example - are safety hazards.
Our traffic islands “enjoy” weeds and poor overall condition.
The neighborhood flooding experienced this past year.
Apopka had to request an extension of our CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) from Orange County for our failure to spend the money given to us.  
Apopka’s failure to spend the budgeted money to help address our Homeless population.
With 1,200 new homes coming in along Golden Gem Road, a glorified cart path with a center line, with no current remediation plans.
We are now under reusable water restrictions.  New homes are being finished daily, laying fresh sod, and our current need for water to maintain our current lawns.  
Kelly Park K-8 school, in all likelihood, will have portables on campus as early as this fall
Thank you, Mayor, for vacating your seat at the Amphitheater last Saturday’s Jazz concert to address 2 vehicles driving on the walking paths around the Amphitheater.  With adequate signage and staffing the potential danger to pedestrians would have been averted without the Mayor’s intervention.

I attended Orange County’s Vision 2050 presentation at Zellwood Elementary on Monday, April 29, 2024.  No representative from the City Council was present.  Orange County anticipates an additional 500,000 new Orange County Residents by 2050.  How many will be in Apopka?  What are Apopka’s 2025, 2026, 2027……, and 2050 expectations and plans for this growth?  

What is Apopka’s 2050 Vision?

If you wish to see what development will look like around your home based on Orange County Vision 2050, simply go to www.OCFL.net/OrangeCode and enter your address.  

We look to our Mayor and Commissioners to look out for us, to plan, protect and serve us today and into the future.

Our City’s leadership keeps rubber-stamping new development and continues to operate within the common theme of:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got (the definition of insanity by doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome) and
Failure to plan is planning to fail.

For success, we must have a plan with long—and short-term measurable goals and support this plan with the right people and the right tools.

We expect and deserve better from our elected officials.

Opinion, OP/ED, Rod Olsen, Apopka City Council, Infrastructure, Staffing, What is Apopka's plan for the future?


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  • Nodcenter

    Rod, while I don't totally disagree with all that you have said I am wondering what professional training drew you to these conclusions. I work in heavy construction and we build, maintain, and improve infrastructure, both municipal and private. My father was on the planning commission for many years and later the mayor of the community where I grew up. While I agree there are definitely some reasons to scream about things here in Apopka I feel you are laying all the blame onto 1 or 2 elected officials instead of spreading the blame to all the guilty parties. Unfortunately this muddies your arguments and your good points are dismissed as just another angry voter who's choice at the ballot lost.

    I too live in RSR and am very upset that the utility department has decided it is better to cut off irrigation water to the homes that have not only been paying for the reuse system, but we also have the ponds that are storing the water that is being pumped to new developments all to increase revenue for the utility department. Utilities make a lot of money for cities. This is a crucially important point. By running the City utilities as far as possible, it ensures that no other utility can take the customers in that within that area. So the City approves annexation to reach further and further into Orange county, so they can get the current and future revenue before someone else does. In order to annex a piece of property you have to be adjacent to city limits, so each lot that is annexed a little further out is a boon for the City.

    Orange county designated much of the area around Apopka as rural, they wanted lots to be a minimum of 10 acres, existing smaller parcels were allowed. The area along 441, around the airport and a lot of the old farm land in Zellwood was to be industrial, which is what they are building there now. The City of Apopka has no such restrictions. So if you can annex your land into the City you can divide it up into small lots. This is why developers are paying stupid amounts of money for land around Apopka. I had one of those 10 acre lots, and I nearly double my investment within 3 years, the people that bought it from me sold it again for 3 times what they paid me for it only 2 years before. The big hold up has been getting utilities to all these properties, so the City is running utilities to them as fast as they can to expand their income area, and to help the investors. But they are running utilities, not complete infrastructure.

    If you look at a map of Apopka you will see pockets all over that are not included with in the City, this is because the property owner has no need to be a part of the City. They enjoy all that the City has to offer, but they are not in the City so they do not have to comply with City ordinances, Since they are way out on the fringe of Orange County, and "in Apopka" the County leaves them alone.

    If you drive around the City and look at the street signs, you will see very few that have City of Apopka on them, especially outside of developments. You mentioned Vick road. I agree it is sorely lacking for maintenance. But that's not a City road. The County roads are not big enough, they are not maintained, and little investment seems to go into them. My land on Golden Gem was burglarized several times, including my cameras, I put up to try to catch the thieves. I was told by the deputy that they have been given direction by the sheriff to ignore the northern part of the area and spend the time in the southern area where the residents keep shooting each other. This is the attitude of Orange County. Let Apopka take care of it. But it is not Apopka's responsibility or right to take care of Orange County's infrastructure.

    I propose The City of Apopka determine limits for expansion, and annex everything inside those limits. Then all the tax money for the roads in this area go to the City to maintain as they see fit. The City need to shut off the water for the reuse lines outside what they are already obligated to until they have the proper facilities to produce more reuse water. You can put separate meters on potable water lines for irrigation, you don't have to use reuse to water your lawns.

    Then to your first point, people blatantly disregarding common decency is not the fault of the city. You can not prevent them from living in your City just because they have no value for anyone besides themselves.

    The City needs to stop the stupid power struggles between the elected officials and look at what is best for the City. The City needs to demand better attention from the County, and the County needs to step up and recognize that The City of Apopka is a major city within the County. Apopka deserves as much respect as Lake Nona. The City needs to establish some boundaries, and stop taking on more than they can handle. As long as City commissioners are only concerned about themselves, despite what they say, then the residents will act the same way, because no one else is looking out for them.

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