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

July 16, 1998

Good move by Camden to bolster battleship bid

It's good to see South Jersey uniting to bring the battleship New Jersey home.

We're happy to see South Jersey unite in efforts to bring the USS New Jersey to Camden as a floating museum.

The latest good news comes from the Camden Empowerment Zone Corp.

On its Monday meeting agenda is a resolution to earmark $1 million in federal money to convert the battleship into a museum.

If other agencies and South Jersey businesses could add a few million more, Camden would have a leg up on the other areas vying for the famed ship. It belongs in Camden, near the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where Delaware Valley residents built it.

Until recently, the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission indicated it was a done deal - the ship was going to Bayonne and South Jersey would have to accept it.

When the arrogance of that position was reported, and the spotlight turned on the commission, its chairman, Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, changed his tune. He's at least trying to give the appearance a decision hasn't been made.

At its latest meeting, the commission heard proposals from Bayonne, Camden and Jersey City. Afterward, Azzolina said, 'They're all on a fairly level field.'

A few South Jersey politicians are conspicuous by their absence in this effort to bring our battleship home.

Where is the support of Rep. Rob Andrews of Haddon Heights, D-1st, in whose district the ship would be situated? Why hasn't Assembly Speaker Jack Collins, R-Salem, taken the side of his part of the state?

Could it be Collins and Andrews would turn their backs on their constituents in order not to offend populous North Jersey, where they would need votes to get their party's nomination for governor?

If so, shame on them.

On the positive side, Camden Mayor Milt Milan, Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, and Camden County Freeholder Pat Jones have worked long and hard to gather support from South Jersey business, political and civic leaders.

The commission will visit Camden July 31. Jones said a coalition of agencies, officials and military veterans is planning a river cruise for commissioners to view a proposed docking site.

'We're going to show the commission why Camden, by far, is the best spot for the battleship,' said Matheussen.

Beyond that, Frank Fulbrook, trustee of the empowerment zone agency, said the other cities won't be able to match Camden's economic package if the proposal gets approved.

That's the kind of gung-ho spirit the proud people of South Jersey are capable of.

The empowerment zone meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden. Go and support the resolution.

Those unable to attend can add their voice by sending in the following coupon. We'll make sure they get to the people who need to know.

USS New Jersey Home Page

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