Whitman Park Athletic Complex Opens in Camden City

Share this:

(Camden, NJ) – On Thursday, the Camden County Board of Commissioners joined Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen and former Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Ron Jaworski to officially open Whitman Park after more than a year of construction, environmental remediation and revitalization, totaling over $8 million.


“As a father, a coach and former athlete, I know how important quality athletic fields are for families, children and youth sports programs,” said Camden County Commissioner Al Dyer. “This state-of-the-art complex will have a dramatic impact on our city’s youth, support the needs of our active and vital youth athletic programs, while providing recreational opportunities and options for exercise and physical fitness for residents in the Whitman Park community and the city as a whole.”


The upgrades and expansion of Whitman Park are part of Camden County’s continuing $19 million commitment to improve 10 parks across the city. Camden County is administering the construction project, in collaboration with the City of Camden, and with project management support from Camden Community Partnership through the Camden County Parks Department. 


“The new and expanded Whitman Park provides for modern recreational and sports facilities, a family-friendly community space for residents of all ages and will serve as a neighborhood anchor for future development,” said Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen. “As a former athlete and coach, I’m thrilled that the partnership with Camden County along with our federal, state and philanthropic partners will provide our youth athletes and residents the athletic facilities they deserve to play and practice the games that they love. This park is also a shining example of our continued commitment to improve open spaces in our neighborhoods and how partnerships make Camden strong.”


The newly completed improvements provide for a new synthetic turf surface football field, significant renovations to an existing baseball field, construction of a second baseball field and the addition of new basketball courts. Further upgrades to the athletic facilities include new sports lighting, scoreboards, a new concession stand in the center of the park with storage, a small multipurpose room and bathrooms. A smaller concession building that existed previously, was replaced with a new building as well. The cost of construction was $5 million to overhaul and expand the park to a 10-acre site. The environmental cleanup and demolition cost approximately $3 million.


The center of the renovated complex will also serve as the heart of the park as it features a modern and fun playground with play equipment for children ages 2 to 5 and additional play equipment designed for children ages 5 to 12. This portion of the park also features a covered pavilion and a spray pad for residents to keep cool during the warm spring and summer months. The renovations also provide for a walkway with lighting, that provides access to the various amenities in the park, but also serves as safe walking path for exercise. Additionally, new updated exercise stations have been added into the park to support physical fitness. 


“Today marks another milestone in the city for equity and access to a recreational complex on par with our suburban counterparts,” Commissioner Jeffrey Nash said. “Furthermore, we have taken a place that was rife with pollution and a relic of Camden’s industrial past and transformed it into a 10-acre field of dreams for the kids and families in Whitman Park and throughout the city. This park is a testament to the teamwork and vision throughout all layers of government and the commissioner’s commitment to Camden.”


The completed renovations and the park design included significant input from the Camden City community. From on-site meetings with the youth sport programs, receiving feedback from neighboring schools and several community outreach meetings, this collaboration was instrumental to inform the community needs and the park design. 

Prior to construction starting on the complex demolition and environmental remediation needed to be done on the former Camden Labs site. Contractors safely removed and disposed of impacted soil and stabilized the site with topsoil to prepare for the park expansion. The environmental investigation, remediation and demolition of seven dilapidated buildings were made possible by $2.1 million of funding from the

NJ Department of Environmental Protection and $750,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Through the partnership with NJDEP and USEPA, the Camden Redevelopment Agency completed the remediation work at the former industrial site, paving the way for the expansion and renovations at Whitman Park to better serve the community.


“President Biden has placed environmental justice at the center of our agency’s mission and goals,” said Olivia Glenn, the senior advisor for equity and chief of staff for EPA Region 2. “Today, I could not be more delighted to celebrate with you the transformation of this landscape from a community liability to an asset at this ribbon cutting of Whitman Park.  This achievement embodies the EPA’s commitment to furthering environmental justice and achieving bold, meaningful outcomes in communities that have long been overburdened and underserved.”


In addition to the remediation, NJDEP also supported the construction of the park through New Jersey’s Green Acres program


“Investments in natural, cultural and historic capital raises our standard of living and promotes sustainable growth and long-term economic vitality in our communities,” said Elizabeth Dragon, DEP assistant commissioner for Community Investment and Economic Revitalization. “Every New Jersey resident, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, color or national origin deserves the opportunity to enjoy quality recreation facilities throughout the state and ensure that future generations have the same.”


The project also incorporated local artists into the final pieces of the park. Local artists were funded to utilize their creative abilities to bring an artistic touch and add vibrant colors to the public space. These artists designed and painted the existing park benches and tables that served the park in its prior state.


“My wife Liz and I have always appreciated the critical role that parks and outdoor recreational space have on communities by providing children and families with safe environments to play and thrive,” said Ron Jaworski, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and founder of the Jaws Youth PlayBook. “I’m proud to be a partner in the city of Camden and to have our foundation support the completion of this new massive park with its vibrant playground space, open space and sports fields to serve the youth of this community and support the aspirations of our young athletes.”