In June 1963, Burlington County began negotiating with the Army Corps of Engineers and the General Services Administration for the 38 acre former Army Nike Missile base on Tomlinson Mill Road in Marlton. The Army deactivated the base earlier that year. Negotiations were conducted by Edmond J. Maguire who was the County Civil Defense Director at that time.
The $32,000 sale was completed by the end of 1963 and renovations to the center began in early 1964. The former base's underground missile magazines were well suited for the center's Emergency Operating Center (EOC). EOCs were usually underground for protection from bomb blasts and nuclear fallout. In the advent of an enemy nuclear attack, the EOC would be used as the nerve center of Civil Defense functions in the County, such as gathering information by radio of radation levels at different points in the county, communication with shelters, distribution of supplies, direction of recovery and aid efforts and communicating with Civil Defense at the State level and CD workers in the field. The EOC contained a communications room with radio base stations for local and State emergency channels and RACES-the amateur radio CD service, rooms with wall maps of the County used to locate a bomb blast and plot radation levels and a staff room where information was processed and coordination plans were made. Drills were conducted at the EOC on Wednesday evenings at 7:30.
Other functions of the CD Center were to provide Civil Defense education courses to the community and a heavy rescue service.
Later the County's Police, Fire and First Aid academy was located on the grounds of the CD Center. The base's former Launch Area barrack housed the school and the former missile fueling area with its high berm served as the Police Target Range.
During the early 1970's, residential development began to approach the site, making it less suitable for Public Safety training. The site was auctioned by the County in December of 1973. Proceeds from the sale went to building the County's Public Safety Center in Westampton.
Today, Civil Defense is known as Emergency Management since its focus has expanded from nuclear to natural disasters such as severe weather.
Jeff Pennell KA2DHE, who ran the 10 meter network at age 14 during the Wednesday drills, contributed info above.
On January 13, 1964 three men, while working on converting the former missile magazines into the Emergency Operations Center, became snowbound at the site during a major snowstorm. Since the men were working underground they were unaware the 12 inches of snow was drifting into three-foot drifts. They contacted the County to come plow them out but they were informed that all the snow equipment was already engaged.
They were then rescued by five Evesham Township men, including Mayor Robert Hutton. The men had to navagate several miles of hazardours roads before reaching the stranded men.