By Mike DeNardo
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – A strip of riverside parkland in Camden — padlocked for 14 years — may soon be open for public use.
The strip clubs and cheap motels along the Admiral Wilson Boulevard were torn down 14 years ago before the Republican National Convention. The resulting grassy stretch along the Cooper River between the Pub and the Hess station in Camden was supposed to become a public park.
It may finally happen. The Delaware River Port Authority is turning over ownership of 15 of 18 parcels to the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, which will own what has become known as Gateway Park. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation will manage it.
The Foundation’s assistant director for South Jersey is Chris Jage, who says much of the park could be open within eight weeks.
“We certainly intend, when that does happen, to have a large press event and invite everybody out and to finally cut the chain on the gate that has been blocking the parking lot — and effectively, it’s been the symbol of that park’s lack of access for the last 14 years.”
The other three parcels are being evaluated for possible environmental remediation. Long term, Jage says the Foundation wants to add picnic benches and restrooms — and to connect Gateway to other neighboring parks.