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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Ocala prepares to break ground on new MLK First Responder Campus

Ocala Fire Rescue and the Ocala Police Department will break ground Friday, Dec. 20 on its new MLK First Responder Campus – the second of its kind in the city.

The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., will be held at the project site in the 500 block of NW Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Those attending will be instructed to park in designated areas.

The MLK First Responder Campus will be the second of its kind in the City of Ocala.
Fire Chief Shane Alexander

“We are excited to break ground for the MLK First Responder Campus,” said Fire Chief Shane Alexander. “This site will not only house the new Fire Station #3 and administration buildings, but it will be home to a centralized fire rescue logistics office, a police department substation, a community room, a fuel island and a basketball court for the community’s use.”

The event is free and light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Ocala Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Ashley Lopez at (352) 629-8306 or Ocala Police Department Public Information Officer Corie Byrd at (352) 427-2813.

Martin Luther King Jr. First Responders Campus in Ocala, FL
The MLK First Responder Campus will include a new Ocala Police Department station.
The new MLK First Responders Campus will feature a fire station in addition to a police substation
Rendering of the new Ocala Fire Rescue station at the MLK First Responder Campus.

In July, the Ocala City Council awarded a $6.7-million contract to Cullison-Wright Construction Corporation to build the first responder facilities. At the time, Council members praised the new campus as a welcome addition to the community.

“I think this going to be an excellent, excellent project for that neck of the woods,” said former Council President Mary Sue Rich.

The new facility will be similar to the city’s original First Responder Campus that opened on NE 8th Avenue in January. That state-of-the art complex houses Ocala Fire Rescue Station No. 1 and the Ocala Police Department’s East District Office. The placement of the complex – a drug house once operated where the police department building now sits – was seen as an advantage for the city and the residents of the Tuscawilla Historic District.

The layout for the new MLK First Responders Campus in Ocala
The layout for the new MLK First Responders Campus in Ocala.

“We were able to clean this area up and there’s only good things to come,” Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said at the Jan. 10 dedication ceremony. “We always know that bad people don’t like to go where police and fire are, so I think this will do a great job in cleaning up the neighborhood.”

Rich, who first started serving on the City Council in 1995 but elected not to run for re-election this year, agreed.

“It is my sincere hope that this campus will serve not only as a home and workplace for our first responders, but also as a reminder of our commitment the City of Ocala proudly makes to its citizens and employees,” she said in January.

Ocala’s original First Responder Campus is located at 340 NE 8th Ave.