(Camden, New Jersey) Sixty Camden children filled the tents at Cooper Commons Park at what will become the new “community living room” for the Cooper Plaza neighborhood. Community partners, including representatives from Cooper University Hospital, Camden County, the City of Camden, Cooper Lanning Civic Association, The Reinvestment Fund, and local elected officials, dug the first hole in the park which is scheduled to be completed in summer 2009.
“The Cooper University Hospital Board of Trustees made a commitment to create a Health Sciences Campus and Neighborhood,” said George E. Norcross, III, Cooper Board Chairman. “We said that this neighborhood deserved not only excellent health services and access to good jobs, but also safe streets, greenery and trees, nice sidewalks, quality housing opportunities – and places for kids to play and for senior citizens to stroll on a nice Fall day. With the support of our community partnerships, we are seeing the results of this commitment to the city.”
The park will include a fenced tot lot with five pieces of play equipment and a soft ground surface; a 100-foot wide green lawn; a small amphitheatre area with a brick plaza and grassy terrace steps; and a fountain sprinkler for children to use in hot summer months. The park will be filled with groves of trees and bushes, with more than 20 benches inside and around the perimeter of the park.
Surrounding sidewalks will be all brick, complementing the historic neighborhood. The park is fully handicapped-accessible, and includes 16 residential parking spaces on its north end. More than 20 overhead lights in and surrounding the park will make it safe at all hours.
The park was designed with the Cooper Lanning Civic Association, working with landscape architect Alan Goodheart.
“We are thrilled that Cooper Commons Park will now include a tot lot that our young children at the daycare will enjoy throughout the year,” said Mukit Wali, Executive Director of Kids World Child Development Center, located across from the park. “We applaud the investment and commitment by all members and look forward to the future sounds of laughter and smiles on the faces of young children and toddlers.”
Cooper University Hospital, the anchor institution of Cooper Plaza, will perform all maintenance of the park for 20 years. The County of Camden is fully funding the construction of this park and the 7th Street median park, a $1.5 million total project.
Many other community partners play an integral role in making the park possible.
- The Reinvestment Fund provided the seed funds to design the park;
- The Cooper Lanning Civic Association provided the vision for the design;
- The City of Camden will own the park, and made sure the land was acquired for expansion;
- The NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency donated the land;
- The New Jersey Department of Transportation provided the County’s funds for streetscaping improvements.
“This park not only contributes to the revitalization of this Cooper Plaza neighborhood, but the plans include the seeds of real progress developing for many blocks surrounding this park,” said Riletta Cream, Camden County Freeholder. “For this great city, we will continue to work to provide our children and our families a place they can be proud to call home.”