Camden board of commissioners unveils $100M park improvement plan

The Camden County board of commissioners last week joined nonprofits, advocates for public lands and mayors from throughout the county to unveil a $100 million plan to revitalize the county’s 24 parks, conservation areas and waterways.

Parks Alive 2025 is the largest investment into the county’s public parks system since the (President Franklin D.) Roosevelt administration and the Works Progress Administration,” Commissioner Jeff Nash, who also serves as the liaison to the Environmental Commission of Camden County, said. “These projects will address a variety of concerns, from water quality to improving accessibility and more. In addition, the commissioners are enhancing playgrounds, green spaces and trails throughout Camden County. By the time these projects are complete, our county’s parks will be a place for everyone, from every walk of life, to enjoy.”

Altogether, Parks Alive 2025 initiative is a $56 million investment, with more than $51 million dedicated to construction costs and $5 million for planning and design. The remainder of the investment is rooted in the $25 million water quality project at Newton Lake Park currently being completed, a $3 million investment for an 80-acre open space parcel in Winslow and a $10 million link trail that stretches from Camden City to the Atlantic County border in Winslow Township. In addition, $6 million has been set aside for park maintenance and purchasing.

“Investing in open, green space for our communities is incredibly valuable, and the Parks Alive 2025 initiative is an investment that is historic in size and scope,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) said. “Green spaces offer opportunities for people to connect, relax and engage in recreational activities that promote health. The project is also sound from an environmental and economic perspective. I am excited to see the initiative come to life and I look forward to the many benefits these parks will bring to our communities.”

Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen detailed how the investment will be particularly beneficial to the city community.

“Parks are located throughout the Camden community, and play a huge role in the overall quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Carstarphen said. “These beautiful open spaces act as catalysts for development, hubs for recreation and centers for events. We commend Camden County and all the partners for launching the Parks Alive 2025 initiative and for committing to creating vibrant spaces for residents, stakeholders and visitors.”

All money and resources for this array of projects will be paid for through existing funding, and no new levies will be created to finance these enhancements. The current funding mechanisms consist of the county open space funds, federal and state grants, funding from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, private donors, New Jersey Infrastructure Bank and previous capital bonds from the Camden County Parks.