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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey

Friday, March 2, 2001

DRPA authorizes $8 million for battleship pier


Visit these related links:
  • Complete USS New Jersey coverage
  • Official USS New Jersey site
  • DRPA home page
  • By EILEEN STILWELL
    Courier-Post Staff
    CAMDEN

    The Delaware River Port Authority, which holds the purse strings for turning the USS New Jersey into a museum, authorized spending $8 million Thursday to begin construction on a permanent home for the historic ship.

    The money will allow the Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group created to oversee the battleship's conversion to a museum, to hire a contractor to build a pier and visitors center at Broadway terminal. The Alliance' s goal is to open the ship to the public in September.

    Also, in an unexpected announcement Thursday, the Alliance said in a press release it would open monthly meetings of its board of trustees to the public beginning April 11.

    The time and place of the first open meeting will be announced in advance.

    In a private meeting Wednesday, the Alliance selected a contractor pending the release of funds from DRPA, but no name was released.

    "The ability of the Home Port Alliance to open the USS New Jersey to the public on a timely basis will only help to enhance the image of the Camden Waterfront as a vibrant and interesting tourist destination," said Glenn Paulsen, DRPA's vice chairman. "We're glad to help."

    Of the $8 million, $2 million is a DRPA grant and the rest is state money from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman authorized DRPA to handle the money.

    Paulsen, who also is an Alliance trustee, handed out a statement from the Alliance saying the cost of preparing the ship's exterior and a berth is now at $18.2 million. Though the cost is higher than expected, the money is available from a variety of public sources, the Alliance said.

    In other business, DRPA approved an interest rate hedge agreement with regard to $867 million in bonds, which represents a portion of the Authority's $1.28 billion debt. Rather than refinance some of its bonds with a more favorable interest rate, the Authority this month will seek bids from financial institutions to swap a fixed rate for a variable one.

    DRPA Treasurer Marc Krassan said the Authority could save up to $38 million in interest payments at "minimal risk" if the transaction is complete.



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