Local Partners in Celebration of Camden Waterfront Park
(03/155) TRENTON -
The Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) and the Coalition for Conservation today joined local
officials in celebrating the opening of an extension of
the public promenade at Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden,
a project that has been instrumental in stimulating the
revitalization of the city's waterfront.
"This project has transformed vacant, formerly industrial
land into a world class waterfront park that provides the
community with access to the Delaware River and links together
many of Camden's most popular attractions," said John
S. Watson, administrator of the DEP's Green Acres program. "The
transformation of this site occurred over many years and
with many partners to whom we are grateful."
The project dates back to 1975, when DEP's Green Acres
program assisted the city in acquiring the lands now known
as Dr. Ulysses S. Wiggins Waterfront Park. Once acquired,
it was transferred to Camden County to oversee its transformation.
Facilities now include a boat basin and marina, ornamental
pedestrian promenade, shore protection, lighting, landscaping
and a natural grass amphitheater.
When the final piece of the promenade is completed next
year, the walkway will extend from Campbell's Field to
the Battleship New Jersey, linking together those destinations
with the New Jersey State Aquarium, the Camden Children's
Garden and the Tweeter Center.
To date, Green Acres has authorized more than $10 million
for the waterfront project, which leveraged an additional
$3.8 million in federal Land and Water Conservation funding.
Once the initial park work was completed, Camden, Camden
County, and the Coopers Ferry Development Association embarked
upon an aggressive campaign to bring attractions, commercial
opportunities, and employment to the area. Thus far they
have been able to attract the Tweeter Center, the State
Aquarium, the Battleship New Jersey, a new office building,
a ferry service to and from Penn's Landing in Philadelphia,
Campbell's Field, new housing in the restored Victor/Nipper
Building, and light rail train service scheduled to begin
by the end of the year.
Other partners in the transformation of the waterfront
include the Delaware River Port Authority, the New Jersey
Economic Development Authority and the State Treasurer's
Voters will have an opportunity to approve an additional
$150 million for open space purchases and community park
improvements on Election Day, Nov. 4. Public Question No.
1, a constitutional amendment, proposes to increase the
bonding capacity of the Garden State Preservation Trust
to $1.15 billion, an increase of $150 million from the
$1 billion voters approved in 1998.
The increased capacity would place no additional tax burden
on New Jersey taxpayers. The sales tax dedicated in 1998
to pay off Garden State Preservation Trust bonds would
cover these additional bonds by taking advantage of today's
lower interest rates.
"Public Question No. 1 is an incredible opportunity
to provide another $150 million for community parks, open
space, farmland and clean water without raising taxes or
costing taxpayers any additional money," said Michael
Catania, chairman of the Coalition for Conservation. "The
Coalition urges all New Jersey voters to take advantage
of this opportunity and vote 'yes' on Public Question No.
1 on Nov. 4."
The newly formed Coalition for Conservation includes a
broad base of statewide and local groups representing land
conservation, parks and recreation, and farmland preservation
At least $50 million would be used to create and improve
parks in cities and suburbs over the next three years as
part of Governor McGreevey's reforms to the Green Acres
program. A minimum of $50 million also would be spent on
open space purchases and farmland preservation in the Highlands,
a critical environmental resource that is the source of
drinking water for more than a third of New Jersey's residents.
In 1998, voters approved a constitutional dedication of
$98 million annually from sales and use tax revenue over
the next 30 years to provide a stable source of funding
for open space purchases, farmland preservation and historic
preservation. Currently, the state may borrow up to $1
billion over the first 10 years, using the $98 million
annually to pay off the debt. With today's low interest
rates, $98 million annually is sufficient to cover payments
on $1.15 billion in debt, allowing the state to expand
its open space and farmland preservation efforts.
Brownfields redevelopment has played an important role
in the revitalization of Camden's waterfront, and voters
will have an opportunity on Election Day to approve a long-term
funding source for similar efforts statewide. Public Question
No. 2, a constitutional amendment, would allow Corporate
Business Tax revenues dedicated to the state's underground
storage tank program to also be used for grants and loans
to businesses and municipalities for cleaning up contaminated
sites. If approved, up to $50 million would be available
for brownfields cleanups in the first year, without any
additional cost to taxpayers.
Since Governor McGreevey took office last year, the state
Green Acres program has acquired 43,492 acres of open space,
and the State Agriculture Development Committee has preserved
310 farms covering 25,516 acres.