After having read and reviewed the Proposed Grow Apopka 2025 Vision Plan, I thought I heard Shoeless Joe Jackson whispering to me, “if the City Builds it, people will come”. The City of Apopka is completing the initial phase of its Visioning process which City Commissioners will review for final resolution and approval very soon. The plan being put forth is very ambitious and costly. A VERY modest estimate puts this plan at just around $60,000,000.00 to fully implement, including basic infrastructure changes that will be required first, before any dreams can become reality. That is NOT counting the $2,000,000 for the 5th Fire Station being planned and which is needed in our City. It also does not include the $10,000,000.00 plan for an Aquatic Center (that’s right… 10 million dollars). And it also does not include new salaries and maintenance costs that will surely follow, nor does it factor in the money for the planned City Center. After recovering from initial sticker shock that came from reading this plan several times and then adding it all up, and with grand ideas and terms floating around, I just knew I’d seen these ideas somewhere. Where? Well, a reading of the UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development Terms reveals many of these same ideas and plans.
Agenda 21 is a United Nations Program that had its start in 1976, and was approved by the United States via Executive order in 1993. Part of the premise of Agenda 21 states the only way to protect the earth for future generations is to expand government control over private property and manage man’s interactions with the environment (taken from the Sustainability Freedom Lab). Many visioning programs, including Apopka’s, include terms like sustainable development, complete streets, healthy cities, walkable areas. Many of these generic and harmless sounding terms could actually mean anything, but mostly could result in infringing upon personal rights as well as private property rights. Even the term visioning is found within the principles of Agenda 21. Witness the heavy-handed approach the City of Apopka will take once the Visioning Process is put in motion. From marketing and branding, multi-modal planning, and handling quality of life events, each of the strategies within the Vision Plan will take loads of money and new City management personnel (layers of bureaucracy) to accomplish this. The Plan also calls for more studies to analyze results from previous studies.
Even the Visioning Process itself, which pocketed at least $125,000.00 for the planners, reeked of Agenda 21 terminology. Complicated and leading questions on the initial surveys, consensus meetings held to frame responses to match planner and City goals rather than the respondents, and sessions themselves that seemed over-conducted to the point that the visions expressed were that of the planning agency and not so much that of our community. The plan is also very dependent on the City applying for and obtaining a large amount of federal grant money. Keep in mind that any grant money comes with strings attached, such as low-income housing demands, reduced vehicle usage, healthy cities and more, all key elements of Apopka’s Vision Plan. NOTHING is free and grant money from the Federal government still comes, ultimately, from Taxpayers… US.. It really just depends which of your pockets is being picked. Even grants from private sources or corporations will have strings attached.
Visioning is nothing more than planned obsolescence with many of today’s buzzwords, nearly unattainable goals and a hefty price tag. And as tempting as grant money is in funding our dreams and visions, we should resist its siren call as much as possible, and instead looking at alternative funding sources. It may be too late to do anything about this, but now that we know the true costs of our Vision, WE the citizens of Apopka can take ownership of this plan and work to find economical solutions as we work toward 20/20 vision, without needing bifocals.