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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2007

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795

DEP SALUTES JOHNSON PARK RESTORATION

(07/45) TRENTON -Emphasizing the importance of preserving New Jersey’s parks and historic landmarks, Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner John S. Watson Jr. today acknowledged the restoration efforts at historic Johnson Park in Camden.

"Working with Coopers Ferry, the City and County, DEP helped fund the restoration of Johnson plaza returning that beautiful historic park to its former grandeur and back to the people of Camden," Deputy Commissioner Watson said. "This is just one of many examples of how open space and historic preservation projects are vital components of our State’s urban redevelopment agenda."

Created by inventor and philanthropist Eldridge R. Johnson, the founder of the world renowned Victor Talking Machine Company, the newly renovated Johnson Park occupies an entire block near Camden's waterfront on the Rutgers University Campus.

When it opened in 1918, the park, and the former Cooper Library which stands at the park's center, served as New Jersey's leading cultural and recreational center. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its historical significance as a cultural and artistic resource for the City of Camden and the state of New Jersey. The magnificent building now houses the Walt Whitman Cultural Center.

Camden County and Cooper's Ferry Development Association, a non-profit redevelopment corporation received $900,000 in grants from the DEP's Green Acres program, as well as funding from Camden City's Economic Recovery Board. In partnership with Rutgers University and the Camden Redevelopment Agency, the park was restored to its original grandeur by reconstructing the park's reflecting pond, bronze statues, concrete walks and plaza. The $2 million project also included the creation of two pavilions and the addition of benches, lighting and landscaping to further enhance the site's natural beauty.

"The Green Acres grant for the Johnson Park project helped to restore this beautiful public space that already is helping to redevelop Camden's central business district and the historic Cooper Grant neighborhood," said Tom Corcoran, president of Cooper's Ferry Development Association.

On November 6, 2007, New Jersey voters will be asked to approve the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007. If passed, the Act would authorize $200 million in bond funding to purchase open space for recreation or conservation; preserve farmland and historic properties; fund park improvements; and purchase as open space properties prone to flooding.

To learn more about Ballot Question #3, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/ballot_q3.pdf

For more information about the DEP's Green Acres Program, visit www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres.

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Last Updated: October 29, 2007