Apopka Word of Mouth is a local social media page on Facebook that is often a platform for spirited discussions about city issues. It's a page with over 9,000 followers. One of them, Akai Sasori, posted a simple question:
"What's the biggest issue happening in Apopka?"
The question generated 145 comments as of Sunday afternoon with a range of opinions, debates and discussions throughout.
Tracy Godwin, a top contributor on the page like Sasori, was one of the first to respond.
"Building too much residential without also building/improving infrastructure.
Roads are too crowded. Example: intersection of Binion & Marden. That area has 3 new apartment complexes, plus a newer subdivision, then just down from there, 3 new subdivisions. Road is still 2 lanes! And where are all the kids going to go to school? Schools zoned for that area are already overcrowded. Where will they all grocery shop. Closest stores…Winn Dixie on 441 or Publix on West Rd. Both already too busy."
Sasori, who facilitated throughout the thread, agreed with Godwin.
"I saw the same dynamic when I lived in Arizona and Nevada. It's like they don't have a structured process for building. They are only focusing on attractions and restaurants. Plus the crowding shouldn't be a problem...this city isn't that big to be doing all that."
Francina Boykin, a resident and local historian, is concerned with the growth of the community; and cited a county meeting she attended.
"I just left Orange County Planning and zoning meeting... they gave green light to Cascades of Marden to build 500 units that includes apartments on Marden Road near two lane Apopka-Ocoee Road. The structures will be built in a 40 acre barrow pit. An average of two cars per household there will be 1000 additional vehicles and not to mention pedestrian traffic. City of Apopka and Orange County have no control over the massive growth. Emergency vehicles have a difficult time already getting to hospital placing people lives at risk."
Susan Hurst Clem posted her concern over the leadership of Apopka.
"There is no proactive vision by current leadership. Nothing is being built/renovated/imagined to provide amenities to the residents of Apopka. Downtown looks like something out of the 50’s, the City Center is a bust and a joke and Apopka (Orange County’s second largest city!) is being left behind by Winter Garden, Mt Dora, Sanford and Maitland. Our leadership is absolutely abysmal. The City Council members trying to effect change are stymied at every turn. The hiring of an Economic Development Director was approved months ago and the position remains unfilled because of our mayor voted against it and won’t do anything about it. And he was the ONLY one who voted no. Thank God for the independent and new business owners trying to bring Apopka out of the 50’s in spite of our mayor."
Michael Duran believes residents must be diligent in reaching out to elected officials to keep the city moving forward.
"I think it’s really important to amplify that Apopka’s commissioners fight a hard battle for the residents of Apopka. The major problem with Apopka, in a nut shell, is the ‘mayor strong’ form of government. There are VERY few cities that are mayor strong and the ones that are, fail in comparison to the size of Apopka. Apopka city commissioners are currently pushing for a charter change. Which is decades old. With this charter change it should bring a city manager in play over a strong mayor. It is completely unfortunate that the current mayor is responsible for almost all of these post complaints. As someone mentioned above, city council meetings are the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Either attend the meetings or you can always watch on YouTube. FYI, the 1st Wednesdays meeting begins at 1pm. The 3rd Wednesday meeting begins at 7pm. I have been going to each meeting for almost a year (only missed a few in person) and I am shocked of how Apopka’s city government works, or doesn’t work. Furthermore, anyone can visit the city of Apopka’s web site and there you will find contacts for all of Apopka city leaders. You are free to email (and I highly encourage) any and all of Apopka’s commissioners. It most all cases, 3 of them will always respond. In my experience, commissioner Alexander Smith had NEVER responded to any of my emails.
People, it’s YOUR city. NOT theirs. It’s your money, your home. Get involved."
Debbie Capabianco remembers promises made by Apopka officials years ago, yet nothing has changed in her viewpoint.
"The current leadership in Apopka makes it damn near impossible for businesses to grow and strive in the area. I sat in on a meeting 15 years ago about how they were going to build up downtown Apopka and 15 years later nothing has been done thank goodness I move my business out of Apopka I'm growing and striving and leaps I never dreamed and it's been less than 30 days. Get it together Apopka."
Megan Ecker thinks growth is good as long as its strategic growth.
"It's not necessarily that they are building too much.....its what is being built. The choices to add 2 more car washes within a 2 mile radius of each other on prime front facing 441 lots is already adding more ridiculousness to the reputation Apopka has for its collection of dollar stores, car part stores, car washes. If you must build something be smart about it and maybe give a look at Winter garden and at how Ocoee has upped its game into regentrification."
Sharon Lusk agrees - calling it growth without planning.
"Out of state investors who are able to buy up properties before families even know they are available. Growth without planning. Homeowner's insurance rates - and lack of availability to those who own older homes."
Suzanne Engelmeier thinks Apopka looks an awful lot like it did circa 1980.
"The downtown area looks the same as it did when I lived here with my parents 40 years ago. I totally agree with way too much residential with no support, we have to travel to at least Altamonte for most stuff."
Chris Hall believes Apopka should understand its limitations and cut its losses.
"I feel and always have that Apopka has aways been trying to be something it never will. Apopka is no more than a bedroom community for people who commute elsewhere to work. It is unfortunate that we do not have the leadership
currently to change that. I find it interesting that City Center flopped. I think if you look at the area of Halls feed store that is being developed and consider that there is a place where you can buy a beer and throw an axe you will get a sense of the direction Apopka is heading."
Jeferson Werts referenced the September 20th Apopka City Council meeting in his critique of what needs to change to move the city ahead.
"Last night I saw concern over a road that was going to have four or five large trucks a month but they were quick to approve multiple large sub divisions over the last couple months…public safety is not ready but they pay lip service to it."
David Odom is astounded at the amount of budget increases from 2013-2023.
"The budget going from $67 million a year 10 yrs ago to $167 million now! Why is the property taxes on the citizens going up along with the increases in water, sewer and trash collection?
Sasori responded to Odom with a theory of his own.
"I think they're trying to have the residents pay out of pocket so they won't have to fundraise their own money. They really need to diversify their ambitions so nothing gets overlooked."
Al Martinez loves Apopka and believes it's a "grass is always greener" theory when he sees the criticism.
"Been living here for 4 years and love it!!...if you don't like Apopka then go move to where I used to live...right off of 192 in Kissimmee...trust me...you will be right back in 5 minutes."
To read more of the comments on this thread, go here.