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

July 22, 1998

A call to battle stations to bag ship for Camden

South Jersey needs to back Camden's bid to bring the battleship home.

Joining South Jersey's fight to win the battleship New Jersey, the Camden Empowerment Zone Corp. voted unanimously Monday to donate $1 million to prepare the historic ship's berth - if it comes to Camden.

The empowerment corporation is seeking another $3 million from public and private contributors on the condition the ship comes to Camden.

That's a hefty sum. If the funds are found, they would double the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission's coffers.

The commission has raised $4 million since 1980 through the sale of commemorative license plates, private donations and a checkoff on state income-tax forms.

It would cost an estimated $1.2 million to tow the battleship from its berth in Bremerton, Wash., to New Jersey. It would cost $6 million more to transform the ship into a museum.

'This vote shows the battleship commission that the community is behind this,' Camden Mayor Milt Milan said.

Milan, Camden County Freeholder Pat Jones and Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, are spearheading the location effort. They're looking for commitments from agencies and companies but no checks - until the commission chooses Camden.

Funds from other sources are needed if the city wants to fight North Jersey's bid. Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler pledged $1 million to the commission if the ship comes to his city. Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria claimed it would be cheapest to put the New Jersey in his town.

The battleship commission will visit Camden on July 31. Officials are planning to impress the members with a presentation built around the dual waterfronts of Camden and Philadelphia. It would include other Waterfront attractions, such as the Aquarium, the E-Centre and Wiggins Park, which draw roughly 1.2 million visitors per year.

The commission is expected to recommend a site to the governor and the Legislature in about a month.

If South Jersey wants this ship, it will have to answer the Camden Empowerment Zone Corporation's call for donations. If logic doesn't convince the commission Camden is the best site, perhaps funding will.

USS New Jersey Home Page

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