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


Battleship panel finally endorses Camden site


By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post Staff
MOUNT HOLLY

Eight months after the U.S. Navy awarded the battleship New Jersey to the Camden Waterfront, the state- sanctioned Battleship Commission has announced its public support for Camden as the permanent home of the highly decorated warship.

The state commission, which lobbied to have the state's namesake battleship berthed permanently in Bayonne, unanimously endorsed Camden during a meeting last Friday.

The somewhat anti-climactic vote followed failed efforts to bring the ship to North Jersey and an aborted effort to file a lawsuit to overturn the Navy's decision.

The commission chairman, Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R- Monmouth, recommended the panel give its total support to the Camden project and focus its energies to ensure the ship becomes a source of pride for New Jersey.

"We fully support the Navy's decision to berth the ship in Camden," the resolution states.

Azzolina, who also wrote a letter to Gov. Christie Whitman endorsing the Camden site, said the primary goal of the commission has been accomplished - to bring the ship back to the state.

"I will not tolerate any efforts to challenge the Navy decision, and we want a good working relationship with the Home Port Alliance," he said Wednesday.

The Home Port Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of South Jersey labor, political and business leaders, won the ship in a competition with the commission, which rejected the Camden site in 1998. The ship was towed to a repair site Aug. 15 at the Broadway Terminal in Camden.

The Navy awarded the battleship to Camden in January - eight months before the commission's vote of support.

"It was long overdue," said commission member Joseph Dyer of Pennsville, a longtime Camden backer, "but I have to give the chairman credit for taking the reins, chastising some of the members and accomplishing this vote."

The commission receives some of its funds from the state, which also has set aside a separate $6 million for ship refurbishment with plans for another $7.2 million to be funneled to the alliance through the Delaware River Port Authority.

The ship is projected to open to visitors on the Camden Waterfront in late 2001, following an overhaul.




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