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Friday, September 30, 2022

Marion County commissioners approve master plan for Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park

During their regular meeting that was held earlier this week, Marion County commissioners approved the master plan for the Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park.

The master plan, which consists of upgrades and improvements to the park, was drafted in collaboration with county staff from the Veterans Services and Parks and Recreation Departments, the Friends of Marion County Veterans Park Foundation, and the Marion County Veterans Council.

Ocala Marion County Veterans Memorial Park master plan
The Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park master plan, which can also be viewed by clicking here

The Friends of the Marion County Veterans Park Foundation first drafted the master plan in 2020, and it was forwarded to the Parks and Recreation Department for review and modification in 2021.

Once the final draft was completed, the master plan then went before the Marion County Board of County Commissioners for final approval.

Marion County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Couillard stated that the master plan will help guide the upgrades to the park over the coming months and years.

“Developing a solid vision and guide for the growth and improvement of the park is a big accomplishment. Too often, a piecemeal approach is used for making improvements, yet with a master plan, a strong vision is created and then each aspect can be broken down into achievable pieces. At the end of it, all these pieces will work together harmoniously to provide a nice orderly arranged and dignified space,” said Couillard.

The new master plan consists of several improvements and new displays at the park, including updates to existing park features and eight new park monuments, ranging from an aviation monument to a Fort King soldier monument to a monument highlighting the war on terrorism.

The aviation monument is planned to feature a historic building that is currently located on private land near I-75. The building will be moved to the park, where it will then be refurbished and updated with exhibits about Marion County’s military aviation history.

Planned renovations and updates for the park include new signage, donor recognition and timeline walls, and a new entry gate, to list a few.

Couillard added, “Expansion and inclusion of some lesser-used areas of the park will allow for more storytelling about conflicts that are not currently represented in the park, such as the War on Terrorism. There is no better way to teach history and to explain why and how these types of conflicts occur other than storytelling. A new serpentine brick wall is planned for the northern area of the park to include these stories and to provide space for future stories.”

The master plan for the park is planned to be implemented over the coming months and years as county departments, the Friends of Marion County Veterans Park Foundation, and the Marion County Veterans Council, continue to make improvements at the park.