MARION COUNTY, Fla. — City leaders in one North Central Florida county are trying to redevelop parts of town. City leaders say west Ocala has being a dying area for years, but a new project could give it life in the future. Those who live on that side of town say it’s about time.
Like Whitfield Jenkins. He has lived in Ocala since 1969. However, he says what the west side of town needs is more development, more jobs and more positivity.
“My concern is, and … I have for years have challenged the city on discriminatory practices … everything from employment to services that they deliver to that section of the community,” Jenkins says.
Ocala city council members have been working on a county redevelopment plan to revitalize west Ocala. It’s an area where 21% of households do not have a car, nearly 80% of the population is african-american, and the per-capita income is a little more than $10,000 dollars, compared to the little more than $22,000 city-wide.
Ocala city manager John Zobler says their focus is areas off of I-75; State Road’s 40 and 200, Highway 27 and Martin Luther King boulevard. He says these are areas with high commercial and residential vacancies, and high unemployment.