For Apopka to go from a small town to a modern city, she needs to upgrade

By Reggie Connell, Editor


“I’m older and much less willing to change. »

–Dan Dority

“Change doesn’t seek friends. It sets the tone and we dance to it.”

–Al Wearingin

Deadwood Season 3/Episode 1 (minus a few four-letter words)


In 1990, the town of Apopka was a community of 13,512 people, according to the US census. The population had more than doubled since 1980. Apopka was growing then, but it was still a small town.

In 2000, Apopka nearly doubled its population to 26,642. It was clear the town was booming, but it was still a small town.

Now, in 2022, Apopka is booming with over 55,000 residents and growing steadily. It can no longer be called a small town. But is Apopka ready to do what it takes to become a modern city?

Many locals would like to see Apopka retain the small town charm it is known for and also manage the growth it is experiencing. It doesn’t sound like a bad plan, but are small-town charm and managed growth central to the challenges Apopka faces?

Change is happening. It should not be feared, resisted or ignored. It’s inevitable.

As technology and innovation continue to advance, a modern city must invest in itself to thrive and be competitive in its region. A growing city like Apopka has to lead or lag behind other comparable cities in Orange County and area despite its second largest population.

On June 30, around 11:40 a.m., a horrific accident occurred at Station #1 of the Apopka Fire Department. A 4,500 pound sand trailer fell on a young firefighter/paramedic.

I have asked several firefighters what a sand trailer is. Some didn’t know. Some have never seen it in action. But those who know it say it’s an invention from around 1990 that was dispatched when there were fuel spills after traffic collisions. It’s rarely used these days, if ever, I’m told.

I am not referring to this accident to implicate anyone. I do not blame Apopka management or the Apopka Fire Department for this terrible accident. There will be a time for investigations and accountability, but not now.

I will, however, advocate for using the next budget cycle to invest and upgrade every department in the city of Apopka and perhaps add another. There is a time and a season for every invention, innovation and technological advance…and then it’s time for another.

The fax machine was once the best way to move documents efficiently for businesses and individuals. It was in every office and it seemed like a miracle…until e-mail became widespread and more accessible to use than fax.

Just over 100 years ago, telephones changed the world of communication for everyone. Suddenly people could talk to anyone in the world. But then the emergence of cell phones changed the dynamics of communications, and phones (now called landlines) are used much less than they used to be.

People have left the fax and the fixed line. I could expand the list and reference AOL, the I-pod and Internet Explorer, but you get the idea.

In 1990, the sand trailer was a clever invention that helped AFD deal with fuel spills. But today, specialized hazardous materials units handle these emergencies more efficiently and safely.

A two-person squad truck following a fire truck with two firefighters was a flexible way for a small-town department to fight fires economically. Yet four firefighters on a fire truck are more efficient and safer for a modern fire department.

Having a mayor act as the director of economic development is an inexpensive way to allow potential business owners to meet the CEO of a small town. A handshake with the leader is important, but in modern big cities, it’s more efficient to have an economic development department that takes care of the day-to-day tasks of building a city’s economy. This allows a mayor to serve as mayor and then step in at the end for those important handshakes once the deal is done.

No one in the world wants to pay more taxes, but after record mileage rates for as long as the eye can see, maybe this is the budget where that shouldn’t be the main focus anymore. There are many areas that need to be addressed.

It’s time to take advantage of these perpetually low mileage rates and invest in Apopka.

And while public safety (fire and police departments) is the most important to upgrade and staff to the appropriate levels, other departments are also in dire need of investment. City council members also pledged to start the process of annexing South Apopka.

If Apopka is to grab the mantle of the rising Central Florida city, it’s essential that they get past the idea of ​​pinching pennies every budget cycle and improve the city. It is important for the well-being of citizens, the prosperity of businesses and the safety of all.

And yes, lives could be at stake.

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