Residents glad to see Camden prison demolished

CAMDEN - December 16, 2009

After 24 years on the waterfront just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge, the unpopular neighbor is being demolished to make way for future development much to the delight of political and community leaders and Camden residents.

"I just want to thank the people who had the patience to know that one day this old prison would come down and we'd be dancing in the street," Camden Mayor Gwen Faison said.

With an abandoned watchtower and rows of razor wire in the background, Governor Jon Corzine took part in the ceremony which may be his last visit to the city before leaving office next month.

"What we're doing here today will set in place a pathway to what is right for the people in the city of Camden," Governor Corzine said.

The 17-acre prison site will be zoned for housing and commercial properties. It is, however, just a part of the bigger plan for the North Camden waterfront that many say was stymied by the prison

"It ended any development along the river in North Camden, so this opens it up, it's a wonderful thing, it's a wonderful day," Rod Sadler of Save our Waterfront said.

North Camden residents opposed the prison from the start, but they lost the battle and it opened in 1985. Today a few of them were on hand for its demise.

"This is a great day. Glad it's gone," resident Marie Jackmon said.

Officials say without the prison here residents will have a clear path to the riverfront and the city of Camden will have a clear pathway to future waterfront development.

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