commission begins to weigh anchor
good to see sites other than Bayonne considered for the battleship
We're happy to see the USS New Jersey Battleship
Commission will be visiting Camden, at last. It will inspect
the obvious, logical choice to berth the historic ship.
Once members see the Philadelphia skyline
and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, they'll know it is the best
backdrop for the most decorated ship in Navy history.
Besides, the New Jersey was built at the Philadelphia
Naval Shipyard and was christened into the Delaware River. Many
who helped build it still live in this area.
Only a month ago, Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina,
R-Monmouth, who chairs the commission, said it had 'made the
decision on Bayonne. There is no way you would be in time to
change positions because anyone else can apply to the Navy for
the ship and we could lose it altogether.'
Now that the federal defense budget includes
language giving the ship to New Jersey, that argument's sunk.
Meeting Wednesday, the commission entertained
proposals from the cities attempting to berth the ship: Bayonne,
Camden and Jersey City.
'They're all on a fairly level field,' said
Azzolina. 'I want to be fair to everybody.'
There are signs Camden is gaining ground.
In response to requests by Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester,
among others, a Pennsville resident was appointed to the commission
as its only South Jersey representative.
Joseph Dyer is a former Salem County Republican
freeholder, county administrator and Navy veteran of the Korean
He attended his first meeting Wednesday and
his appointment leaves six vacancies on the 22-member commission.
'I was first told, when I was selected for
this job, that all the decisions had been made but since then,
I've been told everything really is up in the air,' Dyer said.
Azzolina said the commission will make its
decision in 30 to 45 days. Even that's not final, though.
According to Matheussen, the legislation creating
the commission limits it to 'assistance and advice' in planning
and fund raising. 'The commission never had the authority to
decide where the site was,' Matheussen said.
The Legislature and Gov. Whitman have the
Here's the kicker:
Whitman just placed Camden under a special
review board with sweeping powers to oversee the city's finances.
The state finances about 60 percent of Camden's budget, because
the city has so few resources. Part of the review board's responsibility
will be to find ways to bring money into the city.
Mayor Milt Milan has his sights set on the
Waterfront to improve the city's fiscal condition. Camden's renaissance
depends on additional development there. A floating museum would
fit the ticket.
It only makes sense, then, that Whitman and
her staff should join the effort to bring the USS New Jersey
Readers who want to get involved should clip
the following coupon and mail it to us. Please include your name,
address and phone number. We'll deliver them to the battleship
commission and make sure the governor knows about it.
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