April 29, 2022
The Camden County Board of Commissioners unveiled a $100 million plan to revitalize 24 parks and create a link trail that will open a path running from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to Cape May Point in the coming years.
The Parks Alive 2025 plan has been in the works for several years, bringing together non-profits and local governments to invest in infrastructure, trails, waterways and recreation in the county's park system.
A key facet of the plan will be the $10 million LINK trail, a 34-mile active transportation corridor that will be developed in four phases. The off-road, 12-foot-wide trail will be open to pedestrians, bicycles and other personal mobility vehicles. The LINK trail's path is shown in the map below.
The LINK trail will begin at the Ben Franklin Bridge bicycle/pedestrian ramp in Camden, which can be reached from Philly by foot or on a bike, and run through 16 municipalities in Camden County before connecting with the Atlantic County trail. That trail runs all the way to Cape May Point.
A few miles of the LINK trail already have been constructed, but the full project and parks improvements are expected to be completed by 2025.
“Parks Alive 2025 is the largest investment into the county’s public parks since the Roosevelt Administration and the WPA,” said Camden County Commissioner Jeff Nash, the liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “These projects will address a variety of concerns from environmental issues to improving accessibility and more. By the time these projects are complete, our county’s parks will be a place for everyone, from every walk of life to enjoy.”
The plan for the parks represents a $56 million investment, including more than $51 million dedicated to construction costs and $5 million for planning and design. Many of the county's parks are situated around lakes and ponds, where accessibility and amenities will be improved, and others are more oriented toward recreation such as playgrounds, athletic fields and amphitheaters.
The 24 parks and conservation areas in Camden County cover more than 4,000 acres, including municipal spaces and pinelands.
Another major investment will include $25 million for the Newton Creek Water Quality Project, which will remove sediment to improve natural infrastructure and waterway accessibility.
All of the money and resources for these projects will come from existing funds without the creation of any new taxes to finance them, officials said. The funding comes from state and federal grants, open space funds, private donations and help from non-profits such as the William Penn Foundation and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
“Not only are these projects beneficial for the residents and visitors who access our parks, but we know that the health and welfare of our overall community is dependent on preserved and maintained green spaces and clean waterways,” Nash said. “That’s why our partners from the Trust for Public Lands, Upstream Alliance, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Tri-County Sustainability are here with us advocating for this generational investment in our 5,200 acres of parkland and open space.”