call to battle stations to bag ship for Camden
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
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
'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.
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