New Jersey Clears Landfill for Camden Renewal

CAMDEN, New Jersey, December 6, 2007 (ENS) – A municipal landfill that has been out of operation for more than 35 years is being cleaned up by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The cleanup paves the way for construction of a multimillion-dollar Salvation Army community center that is part of the renewal of the city of Camden, DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson announced Tuesday.

“This truly is an exciting day and a milestone for New Jersey and the DEP,” Commissioner Jackson said at a news conference to announce 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,” said Jackson. “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.

The building 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 gym, library, health center, aquatics center, outdoor banquet terrace, and outdoor sunbathing/water spray area. Outdoor athletic facilities 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,” said Theodore 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 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.

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