New Community Center for Camden

There’s good news for Camden as the New Year rolls in. The city is getting a new (and much anticipated) Salvation Army Community Center—and it’s going on top of an old landfill.

Earlier in December, the former Harrison Avenue Landfill was officially capped off, paving the way for a multi-million dollar Salvation Army center that will provide myriad community services in one of the country’s poorest cities. The landfill is located at the meeting point of the Delaware and Cooper rivers and was used as Camden’s municipal dump from 1952 until 1971. Since then it has been neglected, overgrown with weeds, trees and wild shrubs, but never officially closed. Now, work has begun to clear the site for the eventual 120,000-square-foot community center. The state DEP’s Site Remediation Program and Office of Brownfield Reuse is spearheading the project.

The new state-of-the-art Salvation Army complex—which will be named the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center—will contain facilities for recreational, athletic, educational and cultural activities and services, in addition to potentially generating more than 250 jobs in the region. Construction is slated to begin in the spring.

The DEP is also working with the city to develop unused portions of the capped landfill as a scenic greenway along the Camden waterfront, providing trails and redeveloped wetlands. It’s another step in the right direction for a city that has been trying to bring about a renaissance for the last two decades.

The center is named for the late entrepreneur behind the growth of McDonald’s and his wife, who, according to the Salvation Army website, bequeathed more than $1.5 billion to the service group. The center is one of seven planned for the Eastern United States.

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