(Camden, New Jersey) Among balloons, bubbles and the laughter of children playing on brand-new playground equipment, officials from the city, county and state joined community and business leaders to celebrate the launch of the “Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza” program this morning at the newly re-opened Cooper Commons Park. This dual celebration was the first event to be held at the park and marks its grand re-opening.
“Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza” is a program of the Greater Camden Partnership (GCP). It places uniformed ambassadors in Cooper Plaza during business hours to remove trash, power-wash sidewalks, clean graffiti, and provide an “eyes on the street” presence. The program was made possible through several generous donations, including significant grants from PSE&G and the Cooper Foundation.
“We’re proud to be part of the revitalization of this neighborhood,” said John P. Sheridan, President and CEO of Cooper University Hospital. “In the last two years, this neighborhood has become home to a new parking center, a Patient Care Pavilion, rehabilitated historic houses, and two community parks. Soon we will have a new condominium building and hopefully more projects to come. It is crucial to protect these investments and keep them pristine, and the Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza program will help to accomplish that.”
PSE&G, one of New Jersey’s oldest and largest companies, has long sought to help revitalize the state’s urban communities. Its Foundation contributed $30,000 to support the program. “We are excited about our relationship with Cooper, which is a wonderful urban anchor,” said Joe Forline, Vice President of Customer Operations for PSE&G and a member of the hospital’s board. “This project will improve safety and enhance the quality of life for area residents.”
The Greater Camden Partnership, of which Cooper is an active member, brings together the region’s leading public, private and non-profit organizations to develop and implement innovative revitalization solutions for the city of Camden. It has been operating a Clean and Safe Streets program in Camden’s business district since 2005. This is the first residential neighborhood in Camden to receive this service.
“We believe that clean and safe streets are necessary to grow existing businesses and to attract new economic activity,” explained Dave Foster, president of the GCP. “Cooper Plaza is a hub of activity with hospital expansion, job development, and residential development happening right here and now. We are proud to be part of creating a bright future for Cooper Plaza.”
The new “Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza” program supports other recent investments in the Cooper Plaza neighborhood, including Cooper University Hospital’s expanded campus, Camden County’s streetscaping project, a new 25-unit condominium project, the Camden County Improvement Authority Parking Garage, the Center for Family Services’ “Camden Dreams” project and more.
Cooper Commons Park is located on Chambers Street just a block from Cooper University Hospital. It features new playground equipment, landscaping, a sprawling lawn and plentiful benches for those living and working in Cooper Plaza to enjoy. Camden County Freeholder Ian Leonard, a Camden resident, discussed the county’s role in expanding and constructing the park.
“This new park will provide a fun and safe place for Cooper Plaza workers, residents and children to spend time outdoors,” said Freeholder Leonard. “It’s wonderful to see children here today who will use the play equipment regularly. The Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza program will help make sure this park and the neighborhood continue to look pristine for years and years.”
Sheila Roberts, President of the Cooper Lanning Civic Association, said, “Seeing is believing. More than two years ago, the community began designing this park and now we are standing in it. The neighbors will value this park and take care of it – in cooperation with the “Clean and Safe” team.”
The “Clean and Safe Cooper Plaza” program and the re-opening of Cooper Commons Park are part of a multi-million dollar public and private investment plan which is helping to revitalize the historic neighborhood adjoining Cooper University Hospital and the Camden Health Sciences Campus.