Groveland first responders joined city officials, Lake County dignitaries and dozens of citizens in a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony officially celebrating the police and fire departments’ new digs.
The event took place in the ambulance bay of their new home, a 39,000 square foot public safety complex that broke ground in June, 2019 and that even before that, had been years in the making.
The new facility, which will also be home to the city’s community development department and serve as its Emergency Operation Center (EOC) during storms or other emergency situations, is located at 6825 State Road 50, next to Tractor Supply, and replaces the departments’ aging facilities.
“There are three major words that come to mind when I think of this monumentous occasion; protect, rescue, serve. This building stands as a symbol to embody all three of those things,” says Mayor Evelyn Wilson. “This building also signals a transition for Groveland. The men and women who risk their lives every day have relocated from a building constructed in the 1960s to this facility and they are now equipped with elite, up to date technology to better serve our community and its citizens in greater capacity.”
Evelyn says the new Public Safety Complex is the most significant public facility the city has ever built, adding that: “As an active Groveland resident for more than a decade, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the things that have been talked about for years, come to fruition.”
Also there to speak were Groveland’s Public Safety Director and Chief of Police Shawn Ramsey, Fire Chief Kevin Carroll, Community Development Director Tim Maslow, and City Manager Mike Hein.
“The building we celebrate today signifies much more than simply another structure,” says Shawn, explaining that it will serve as home to the city’s police and firefighters, and as a safe haven for citizens and employees conducting future business out of it.
Mike says, “We’ll talk about what a wonderfully charming day it is because we’re all assembled in this beautiful building, but it’s not about this building, it’s about the continuum of our past and about its trajectory towards our future.”
With that, Mike thanked all who had a key role through the years in making the project possible. He also gave a special shout-out to Willie Morgan, who after 44 years serving Groveland as its first paid fire chief, will be retiring after fulfilling his promise to stay on board to see this project to completion before moving on with the next chapter of his life.
“I want to thank Chief Morgan for what he has done in stewarding this community through thick and thin,” Mike says, inviting guests to share in a ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony before opening the building for tours.
Mike explained that preceding the dedication March 12, Willie lowered the flag at the old fire station for the last time. During the ceremony at the new facility, Willie then raised the flag for the first time before all in attendance.
Guests were then treated to refreshments and given tours of the inside of the building by emergency personnel.
The multi-level building features an ambulance bay, training classrooms, EOC headquarters complete with powerful generators to keep it up and running in the case of a hurricane or other emergency, living and kitchen quarters for first responders, holding and interview rooms for detainees, evidence storage lockers and equipment, permitting department, offices and more. Most of all, the new facility means safer working conditions for firefighters, since it is equipped with decontamination safety features designed to allow first responders to clean possible cancer-causing agents off themselves after calls.
Officials say the fire trucks are also equipped with units that eliminate exhaust fumes before they enter the bays.
The new facility cost about $10.5 million and was designed by GatorSktch, an architectural firm based in Clermont, and the same company who designed Tavares’ Public Safety Complex a few years ago. It was constructed by Hawkins Construction, Inc., of Tarpon Springs.