mayor bob apgar alvaro obregon mexico
BEACON PHOTO
DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar, at right, greets members of a delegation from the city of Álvaro Obregón in Mexico, who visited DeLand in June for an event hosted by the DeLand Police Department. Developing a “sister city” relationship with Álvaro Obregón and the Mexican region where it is located is among items on the retiring longtime mayor’s “wish list” for DeLand’s future.

Over the course of his final few City Commission meetings, Mayor Bob Apgar wrapped up the meetings by sharing some of his observations and a “wish list” of goals he encouraged the succeeding city commissioners to pursue or at least think about. Here, in no particular order, are Apgar’s wish-list items:

● Keep civility as the rule at City Commission meetings. Try to keep partisan politics from getting too far into local government.

● Help the Florida Legislature understand how inequitable the ad valorem property-tax system has become.

● Preserve the city’s reputation as a good government, and remain a stable government. One of the values of a stable government is dependability. Businesses and economic development prospects look for that.

● Recognize and value our city’s diversity. Embrace it; be inclusive.

● Find a way to connect SunRail to Downtown DeLand. There are multiple options; perhaps some of the new revenue that’s being created could be devoted to that purpose.

● Continue Downtown-living growth. It’s smart growth, and it’s a hedge against other commercial activity in outlying areas.

● Expand the Downtown DeLand footprint. Downtown DeLand has the same footprint that it did in 1959 when I moved here, and we’ve grown threefold.

● Continue to invest in the core city — the original 4 square miles bounded by Boundary, Hill, Plymouth and Beresford — to continue to draw people to the core city and our Downtown.

● Continue efforts with West Volusia utility providers to achieve a long-term, sustainable and affordable potable water supply.

● Eliminate enclaves and square off the city’s boundaries for effective delivery of services where the City of DeLand meets the boundary of the unincorporated area.

● Remember that development projects that affect the city of DeLand should be approved by the City of DeLand.

● Acquire parcels in Downtown DeLand to control, as we can afford it.

● Develop another community recreational center, and acquire more active recreational parcels for athletic activities.

● Continue to promote economic development, for good, higher-paying jobs.

● Continue to work on flooding issues.

● Promote sustainability and resiliency. Continue participation in the Race to Zero, a program developed by the Florida League of Cities to encourage 20 or so cities, including DeLand, to achieve zero carbon emissions.

● Consider no-cost annexation for some enclaves. Help residents understand that the cost differential between living in the city and living in the county has become fairly minimal.

● Develop a “sister city” relationship with Álvaro Obregón in Mexico.

● Increase the number of unrelated people allowed to live in a residence beyond the two now allowed.

● Eliminate smoking in city parks.

● Workforce and affordable housing: Work with the county to develop strategies. Develop mechanisms to encourage the development of affordable housing. Whatever you do in the land-development regulations, don’t make the enforcement so harsh that nobody will use the mechanisms. Don’t lose sight of the greater good in the development or implementation of policies and proposed developments that would increase our affordable-housing stock.

● Get ambiance-destroying trucks off Woodland Boulevard.

● Find a solution to allow truck parking on the DeLand Municipal Airport.

● Consider using more roundabouts. Carmel, Indiana, has 140 roundabouts, whose construction was funded in part by a voter initiative. Roundabouts improve traffic flow, cut gasoline consumption and reduce maintenance costs, in addition to lessening dangerous crashes.

● Create one Chamber of Commerce for all of West Volusia. West Volusia would have a more powerful voice with one entity speaking for the business community, and smaller businesses would not feel the pressure to pay to belong to two or even three Chambers of Commerce.

● Devise a better system to recruit volunteers and provide better recognition for volunteers.

● Citizens Academy: One of the things on my original wish list as a new mayor, that we never achieved, was a youth council. A Citizens Academy is a higher priority now; a lot of the current residents do not have a good understanding of the way government works and how decisions are made, particularly in the area of development planning.

● Try to get more people involved in the discussion of strategic planning and the challenges facing the City of DeLand. Consider incentives like donated baskets for door prizes or small gift items or gift cards for each person who attends.

● Value our community partnerships, such as our partnership with Stetson University in Spring Hill and at Melching Field, or our partnership with The Neighborhood Center in operation of The Bridge homeless shelter. Enhance our existing partnerships, and look for new partnerships.

● Preserve and enhance our small-college-town quality of life.

— Courtesy of Bob Apgar. Compiled by Barb Shepherd

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