Camden County’s Gateway Park Long-Awaited Opening Is Celebrated

Nearly 20 years after Admiral Wilson Boulevard was cleared of shuttered and seedy businesses before the 2000 Republican National Convention, the land is opening as a park.

The 25-acre, half-mile tract of land — situated between the Cooper River and the Boulevard — has been turned into Gateway Park, the Camden County Freeholders recently announced.

“The businesses that once sat at the site of Gateway Park were razed nearly 20 years ago, but the impact of what they left behind lasted long after they were gone,” said Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash. “Today, I’m thrilled to say that the site has been remediated and can finally be opened to the public in its entirety.”

When Gov. Christie Whitman’s administration cleared the area to make it more visually appealing to visitors crossing the bridge for the Philadelphia convention, the plan was for the Delaware River Port Authority to begin work to turn it into a county park immediately. However, there were long delays over safety concerns. The discovery of leftover, previously unknown underground petroleum product-holding tanks brought on years of delay. The park has finally been completely remediated and is ready for future development, according to the county.

For local residents, this is welcoming news.

“For me, this is part of the transformation of the city; it’s another place for our families and children to play and enjoy nature”, says Martha Chavis, a Camden resident and member of Friends of Cooper River West. “It’s a stretch of the river that has been closed for decades from use and now our community can finally have access to it. I can’t wait to get my bike out and ride through the park and enjoy the spectacular greenway along Cooper River.”

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