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NEWS AND EVENTS
Keith and Schnars in the news - K&S continues visioning work for Apopka (Orange County), synthesizing major community input and facilitating a retreat with City Council.
Posted on 12/11/2015

Ideas for Apopka's future were taped across the walls of one of its most historic homes Wednesday, as officials convened in the century-old Highland Manor to do some brainstorming. The job before the City Council: Winnow down these lists of goals, strategies and suggestions so that a cohesive, long-range plan can take shape in coming months. The meeting also marked the newest phase of the city's visioning effort, a process designed to figure out what Apopka residents want and how to make it happen. "We're a little chunk of coal over here. We're ready to be a diamond," Commissioner Sam Ruth said Wednesday. While embracing the change, commissioners say they also want to honor the city's history. Mayor Joe Kilsheimer said, to him, the concept of growth ties together the city's past and future. Once called "Fern City" after its nursery industry, Apopka is now working to cultivate a vibrant city center and manage residential and commercial development. Kilsheimer said he'd like the city's entry points to be marked with signs that read, "Welcome to Apopka. Come grow with us." The brainstorming session was led by consultants with the Fort Lauderdale-based firm Keith and Schnars, P.A., which the city hired for about $130,000 to carry out the visioning process. Since the summer, ideas have poured in over seven listening sessions and through a community survey that drew roughly 1,200 responses. The feedback was fairly consistent, the consultants said. Apopka residents want more dining and shopping options, beautiful streetscapes and more local jobs. Council members also talked about bringing a post-secondary education institution to the city, making it more friendly to cyclists and increasing cooperation among government, nonprofits, civic groups and businesses. Consultants will use the direction they received Wednesday to develop a plan for presentation to the Council early next year.