Bill to boost funding for USS New Jersey by $7.2M sent to Assembly
By CAROL COMEGNO
TRENTON -- Two Camden County assemblymen introduced a bipartisan bill Monday to match a Senate bill that would boost state aid for the battleship USS New Jersey project in Camden to $13.2 million.
Assembly Speaker Jack Collins, R-Salem, said the bill would increase the present $6 million state grant for refurbishment by $7.2 million. The Assembly bill has his blessing.
Assemblymen George Geist, R-Camden, and Joseph Roberts, D-Camden, said the bill will open more of the ship to tourists and make the floating memorial a year-round attraction. They are co-chairmen of the Assembly delegation from South Jersey.
"This will allow for opening of all decks of the ship to the public and enclosure of the two-tiered, interpretive walkway when the site opens," Geist said.
Roberts said this enhances public accessibility and accelerates the plan for renovation of one of the most highly decorated ships in U.S. naval history.
Senate President Donald DiFranceso, R-Union, announced his bill first last week.
The nonprofit Home Port Alliance proposed a summer 2001 opening. The ship, now moored at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, will be located on the Camden Waterfront behind the E-Centre and adjacent to the Beckett Street Terminal of the South Jersey Port Corp.