Apopka Envisions a Bright Future: What is the Visioning Project?

A new program from the City of Apopka invites the community to envision the future of this fast-growing area of Central Florida.

Visioning is increasingly popular among all types of government to develop consensus for what the public wants – and just as important – determine what is needed to achieve those goals. Want more economic development? Better roads, parks, services or even more restaurants? Establishing a clear vision is essential to ensure that Apopka continues to grow as a premier destination to live, work and play.

The city recently received proposals from six consulting firms to assist in community visioning. A committee of government, business and community representatives is working to prioritize those proposals. The City Council is expected to vote on the top firm May 6, and work could begin in June.

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“I have hopes and dreams about what I would like Apopka to become, and I know that thousands of Apopkans have their own hopes and dreams, too,” said Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer. “The visioning process is our opportunity to bring Apopka residents together and collectively forge a consensus about how we want Apopka to grow.”

Establishing community vision is important to help better define Apopka among all areas of Central Florida. The city can work to develop its image – a productive reputation that reflects positively on the community and attracts businesses and residents. Apopka can identify needed public improvements, lay out community projects and complement the city’s master development plan for future construction.

The opportunities are endless.

The heart of visioning is to gather input from all areas of the community – residents, businesses, and civic organizations, for example – through a series of public meetings and other outreach efforts. Discussions will help to define what Apopka is today and what the city hopes to become in the next 20 years.

Information can help Apopka to create a unique brand or image – important to represent the community and to highlight its best features. A positive image can help to nurture community pride and to support marketing efforts.

The City of Fort Lauderdale currently is implementing its third visioning project to plan for transportation and community connectivity through the year 2035. That municipality successfully led two other efforts – one in the 1980s to develop Fort Lauderdale Beach, the Arts and Sciences District and to create its Riverwalk. Another visioning project in the 1990s developed plans to revitalize the Sistrunk Boulevard business district and northwest community.

The Florida Department of Transportation is undertaking its own visioning to update the state’s long-range plans for roadway improvements, new construction and intermodal systems. The City of St. Augustine – the nation’s oldest city – started a visioning program last year.

Nearby Clermont also sought community visioning to update its image – an effort that led to a new city master development plan, city logo, website and branding efforts among other things. It was the result of lengthy community discussions and planning efforts coordinated with help from private consultants.

While Clermont still honors its past as a one-time citrus producer, the new branding highlights the city as a top destination for amateur and professional athletes, recreation and sports medicine. That is the inspiration for Clermont’s new identity as the “Choice of Champions.”

“When I took the position of city manager two years ago, I realized that the most important thing to do before making any plans was to ask the city council and community what their vision of Clermont’s future was. We were fortunate to have the Corbin Group facilitate our visioning sessions, in which we had more than 1,000 people attend. At the end of those sessions, we had a clear consensus about what the community wanted and how the community identified itself,” said Clermont City Manager Darren Gray.

“That gave us a blueprint for our branding and master planning. Getting the community’s direction and buy-in not only gave us a solid foundation on which to build the future, it also saved time and money because we did not have to duplicate focus groups and other research. The community spoke, and we listened.”

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