With the biggest battle won, Home Port Alliance now sets sights on fund raising
By KATHY HENNESSY
The Home Port Alliance won the battle to turn the USS New Jersey into a Camden museum.
Now, the nonprofit group must begin the work of raising enough money to make the project a financial success.
With about $12 million already set aside, the group has enough money to transform the ship into a floating museum the centerpiece of a memorial that will include a walkway highlighting the ship's history, said retired Capt. David McGuigan, president of the Home Port Alliance.
Funding includes $3.2 million from Camden County, $6 million from the state and $1 million from the Camden Empowerment Zone Corp.
But the Alliance knows the money collected from admissions alone will not be enough to keep the museum operating once it opens to the public, possibly as early as the summer of 2001.
The group will seek help from both corporate sponsors and private citizens, said Donald Norcross, head of the AFL-CIO Southern New Jersey Central Labor Council and vice president of the Home Port Alliance.
The cash raised through fund-raising efforts will go toward capital projects such as opening additional sections of the ship, new exhibits and future maintenance, Norcross said.
There are also plans for events and functions along the Waterfront to raise cash for the battleship, McGuigan said.
Other money may come from a plan to allow Boy Scouts and school groups, for a fee, to spend a night on the battleship in order to experience the way sailors lived.
Norcross will outline the fund-raising plan to other members of the nonprofit group at a meeting this week.
Two earlier meetings were postponed because of snowstorms.
Norcross said he is confident that all of New Jersey will be generous supporting the battleship from "those giving pennies in jars at schools" to major companies.
"I believe the community support is fantastic," Norcross said.
Norcross said it will be important that the fund-raisers make sure people know how their donations are being spent.
Though the Alliance has enough money to open the ship, McGuigan said, fund raising will be necessary "if you want to open more," McGuigan said.