Department of Environmental Sciences

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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  Camden Brownfields: Reuse of Brownfield Sites Key to Camden's Revitalization

The decline of industry and commerce in the city of Camden has left a legacy of hundreds of abandoned "brownfield" sites and miles of abandoned or underproductive riverfront. While this industrial decay and resulting depopulation has devastated the city, the large inventory of brownfield and riverfront sites presents a tremendous opportunity to remake the city to build on its historic, cultural and natural assets. Over the last several years, the city of Camden and its stakeholders, along with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have partnered to focus the city's revitalization efforts on reuse of brownfield sites, which are now viewed as priorities for community regeneration instead of environmental liabilities that thwart redevelopment efforts.

The planning for the reuse of brownfield sites is a complicated process that involves community stakeholders, multiple government agencies and private and non-profit institutions with differing interests and priorities. To assist in this effort, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection became a partner with the city of Camden in 2003 to work cooperatively in two neighborhoods with a large inventory of brownfield sites. The Cramer Hill neighborhood is a stable working class community that is isolated from its ecologically-significant riverfront by eight (8) brownfield sites that occupy over 200 acres and the entire 2-mile long waterfront. Several years of hard work by Camden's stakeholders has culminated in the June 2009 Cramer Hill NOW Plan that has outlined a vision for the community's brownfield sites. The most significant brownfield reuse in Cramer Hill will involve the 85-acre Harrison Avenue Landfill, where the city's former dump with be transformed into a 24-acre campus with a 110,000 square foot Salvation Army Community Center, a 13-acre active recreation park with a library and a nearly 50-acre ¾-mile long riverfront greenway with significant habit enhancement following. The North Camden neighborhood, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods that has experienced decline since the 1920's, has brownfields covering more than a third of its land and much of the waterfront. The reuse of brownfield sites in North Camden was memorialized in the April 2008 North Camden Neighborhood and Waterfront Park Plan, which has catalyzed the future removal of the Riverfront State Prison and was selected as a NJ Futures Smart Growth Award.

One of the most positive changes brought about by the continued hard work by Camden and its stakeholders on the inventory of brownfield sites has been a revisualization of brownfield sites from an environmental liability to an asset that enables community transformation. It is anticipated that reuse of the brownfield sites in the Cramer Hill and North Camden communities will result in over 3000 housing units in each community, over 200 acres of new or refurbished open space, significant new retail and business activity, and a waterfront greenway system that extends 3.5 miles connecting these communities with Camden's central waterfront and adjacent suburban communities.

Last updated: 07/07/2009