By: Savannah Scarborough, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Services Intern
CAMDEN, N.J. — Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and The Trust for Public Land worked closely with one another, 500 community members and stakeholders, the City of Camden, Camden County, and the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority to develop a future for Camden County’s park system and created a plan called the Open Space Plan.
The purpose of the Open Space Plan is to achieve the goal of the “10-Minute Walk” promise. The “10-Minute Walk” promise is a campaign signed by Camden Mayor Frank Moran in 2018, and it works towards providing all residents in the county a park within a 10-minute walk from their homes. Moran hoped to accomplish this goal by 2025.
“When I signed on to the ‘10-Minute Walk’ campaign almost three years ago, I committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that all Camden residents have safe, easy access to a high-quality park within a 10-minute walk of their home,” Mayor Moran said in a press release. “This plan is the roadmap to achieving that goal, and my administration and I are eager to continue this rewarding work.”
This plan’s overarching goal is for Camden County to improve residents’ quality of life through investments geared towards parks. More than $100 million has been invested in Camden’s park system over the last decade due to parks being recognized for their role in establishing healthy communities, with an additional $25 million expected to be invested over the next five years.
The Open Space Plan focuses on maximizing community benefits in Camden while simultaneously improving its environment and addressing systemic inequities. There are eight high-level objectives within the plan:
- Creating safer recreation environments
- Increasing high-demand park amenities
- Improving maintenance
- Increasing programming
- Maximizing climate resilience
- Increasing park funding
- Giving community members more information
- Increasing collaboration between stakeholders
The Trust for Public Land and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership are crucial in implementing this plan and making sure it functions smoothly. The Trust for Public Land strives to create parks while also protecting land and ensuring healthy, livable communities for the future. Millions of people across the country live a 10-minute walk away from a Trust for Public Land park or another area. Cooper’s Ferry Partnership implements initiatives to improve people’s quality of life in the City of Camden. Its approach empowers residents to sustain their visions for a healthy life and the surrounding community.
“We feel that it is representative of the needs and wants of Camden’s diverse population and formulates an equitable, inclusive, and implementable vision for the future of Camden’s park system,” Kris Killuri, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership’s CEO and President, said in a release.
This plan is essential for the betterment of Camden County. When parks are located closer to a child’s home, the use of the park by any given individual increases by 400%. Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor affecting every household, greater access to parks leads to lower body mass index and reduced risk of obesity while also positively impacting physical and mental health within children, which is vital during these times.
“High quality public green space is uniquely powerful in its ability to advance a breadth of public priorities,” The Trust for Public Land said in a release. “A park or green schoolyard provides neighbors a place to connect and support each other, it cools the air, it cleans the water, it heals the mind.”
While this is just the beginning of the future of parks in Camden County, expect to see significant changes underway in your communities and anticipate a healthier and stronger Camden County!
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.