DEP LANDFILL CLEANUP TO CLEAR WAY FOR
SALVATION ARMY COMMUNITY CENTER IN CAMDEN
(07/48) CAMDEN - A municipal landfill that has
been out of operation and neglected for more than 35 years is being
cleaned up by the Department of Environmental Protection, setting
the stage for construction of a multimillion-dollar Salvation Army
community center that marks a significant step forward in the city’s
renewal, DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.
“This truly is an exciting day and a milestone for New Jersey and the DEP,” Commissioner Jackson said during a news conference announcing the start of work at the Harrison Avenue Landfill. “The cleanup of this landfill will allow what was once a scar on the community to be transformed into a first-class community center that will be a jewel for Camden. This brownfield redevelopment project will make all of New Jersey proud.”
Working with the Camden Redevelopment Agency and the city, the DEP is using its Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund and its Publicly Funded Remediation Program to pay for the nearly $14 million investigation and remediation of significant portions of the 85-acre landfill, located along the Delaware River in the city’s Cramer Hill section.
The estate of philanthropist Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, has provided the Camden Chapter of the Salvation Army with a $54 million grant to build and operate the 132,000-square-foot community center, which will house a family service center, an arts center, a recreation center, and a child care center. At the heart of the facility will be a large, atrium-style town plaza.
The center, to be named for Ray and Joan Kroc, will have a host of amenities, including a gymnasium, library, health center, aquatics center, outdoor banquet terrace, and outdoor sunbathing/water spray area. The building will be complemented with outdoor athletic facilities that will include soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and concession stands.
“The City of Camden, thanks to the Salvation Army Kroc Community Center, will be well on its way in meeting the human and social needs of our community,” said Mayor Gwendolyn A. Faison. “It will embrace the vision outlined in our development and revitalization effort that is currently a work in progress. We are deeply grateful to the Kroc family and the Salvation Army.”
“The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center will be a resounding beacon in the Cramer Hill community and a guiding light to the future development and revitalization of the city of Camden,” added Theodore Z. Davis, Camden’s Chief Operating Officer. “We really salute the contribution of the Kroc family and the Salvation Army.”
“We are thrilled with DEP’s leadership in helping reclaim this valuable green space in Cramer Hill,” said John Kromer, executive director of the Camden Redevelopment Agency. “The cleanup is an essential step in the development of the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center which will benefit not only the residents of Cramer Hill, but the entire City of Camden.”
Salvation Army project administrator Major Paul Cain said, “The community is embracing the Kroc Challenge to leverage a wide variety of resources to commence the work on this facility. This new center will serve the educational, physical, social and spiritual needs of thousands of citizens through an amazing variety of programs. We believe this center will be a beacon of hope and agent for change in Camden for many years to come.”
The DEP ordered the city to stop using the landfill in 1971 due to lack of environmental controls. Because of financial constraints, the city has never been able to properly close the landfill. It contains primarily household refuse and construction debris, although a DEP investigation found a pocket of chemical waste in the landfill’s southern end.
The redevelopment project encompasses approximately 23 acres at the northernmost end of the landfill site, across from 22nd Street. Remediation at this end of the landfill will include removing all waste beneath what will be the community center’s footprint and capping of an adjacent area that will become athletic fields and the main parking area. Remediation in the southern end, near State Street and more than 1,000 feet from the development site, involves removal of 14,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with chemical waste that is buried under the municipal solid waste.
The DEP has built an access road and has begun clearing this area. This aspect of the project, costing $4 million, is being paid for by DEP’s Publicly Funded Remediation Program, which is funded by the Corporate Business Tax. The department is currently distributing fliers in English and Spanish to neighborhood residents, notifying them of the removal project and measures being used to monitor air and suppress dust.
The DEP is providing nearly $10 million in grants from its Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund to the Camden Redevelopment Agency for overall landfill investigations and remedial activities associated with Kroc Center development area.
The DEP will be developing a remediation plan for the remainder of the landfill that does not fall within the community-center project boundaries. The Kroc Center development and future landfill remediation will allow for a mile-long public greenway along the river and creation of a wooded buffer as habitat for bald eagles in the area.