(Camden, NJ) –On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners joined Camden City Mayor Victor Carstarphen and the Camden community to break ground on the revitalization of Elijah Perry Park.
The work involves comprehensive environmental remediation and the construction of a $2.3 million park for residents of the Centerville neighborhood. So far, the Camden Redevelopment Agency has completed the environmental investigation and remediation of Elijah Perry Park and the park’s development is slated to be complete by the summer.
“This exciting endeavor is yet another way we are investing in our county’s parks,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Nash, liaison to the Parks Department. “Our communities are happier and healthier when they have access to quality green spaces, and it is a top priority that we are providing that for all residents of Camden County.”
The construction of the park is being funded by the City of Camden, the Camden Housing Authority, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, and Camden Community Partnership.
“Our city has unfortunately been plagued by numerous Brownfield properties for far too long and these sites are impacting the health and wellbeing of residents and thwarting progress in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Vic Carstarphen said. “But now, we can say goodbye to one of these toxic sites and look forward to a positive chapter here in Camden. Breaking ground on this project signifies our continuing commitment to improve the lives of our residents and I cannot wait to welcome the community to Elijah Perry Park soon.”
Congressman Donald Norcross expressed his pride in fighting for better community green spaces on a federal level.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver and improve the quality of life for our communities across South Jersey,” Norcross said. “I’m proud to have secured $3.5 million last year to remove hazardous waste from Elijah Perry Park and ensure that it remains a clean, healthy, and safe community space that can be used by everyone. Protecting our neighborhoods and our environment continues to be a top priority of mine, and I will continue to fight in Congress to reduce health burdens and keep our communities safe.”
In 2022, the City of Camden was awarded $3.5 million grant from the EPA for Brownfield projects around the city including Elijah Perry Park. A brownfield is a property where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated due to the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Once these properties have been cleaned up, former brownfields can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable
housing, parks or solar farms.
Senator Cory Booker discussed how this project represents a larger commitment from the state to improve the lives of Camden residents.
“This investment in Elijah Perry Park stands as a testament to our collective commitment to protecting the health of Camden residents and promoting economic opportunity,” Senator Cory Booker said. “I look forward to witnessing its transformation into a vibrant community asset that improves the quality of life for residents. This park was created by FDR’s New Deal, and I’m proud that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing historic resources to help restore contaminated sites, reduce health burdens and spur economic revitalization.”
The New Elijah Perry Park is set to offer a range of amenities for Camden residents, including:
• Two new basketball courts
• A baseball field
• A mini soccer pitch
• Playground with a net climber
• Outdoor exercise equipment and relaxing picnic areas
• New restroom facilities
• A pavilion with picnic tables and chairs,
• And a refreshing spray ground feature.
Shawn M. LaTourette, commissioner of environmental protection for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, explained how the project is an example of positive community collaboration.
“The Murphy Administration is committed to a fairer and greener New Jersey through the creation and enhancement of parks in overburdened communities such as Camden,” LaTourette said. “The revitalization of Elijah Perry Park stands as a shining example of strong partnerships collaborating for the betterment of a local community. My DEP colleagues and I congratulate the City of Camden, the Camden Housing Authority, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, and Camden Community Partnership on this accomplishment.” Dana Redd, CEO for the Camden Community Partnership, discussed the importance of providing quality green spaces to the Camden community.
“Public parks are a vital community asset that enhances our residents’ health and well-being while also strengthening the character of our neighborhoods. After the pandemic, it has become evident that investments to improve our public parks and open spaces are not a luxury but a necessity,” Redd said. “The enhancements currently underway at Elijah Perry Park are the perfect example of this and it would not be made possible without the collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, EPA, NJDEP, Housing Authority, Camden Redevelopment Agency, and Camden County. On behalf of the board and staff at Camden Community Partnership, we are thrilled to be a part of the team and are excited for the residents to start enjoying the new and improved Elijah Perry Park this upcoming summer.”
Olivia Glenn, EPA Region 2 chief of staff and senior advisor for equity, emphasized how the groundbreaking is an essential component to the city’s overall progress.
“Today’s groundbreaking at Elijah Perry Park marks a pivotal step in Camden’s transformation, Glenn said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the EPA’s $3.5 million grant reflects our unwavering commitment to revitalizing communities and furthering environmental justice. By cleaning this site and supporting its conversion to a vibrant park, we are not just enhancing green spaces. We are providing a shining example of how EPA brownfield funding directly touches of the lives of city residents. This project, made possible through strong collaborations and federal support, is a beacon of progress and a promise of a sustainable future for all communities.”