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May, 2022 Bellmawr Waterfront Development Project Update; Includes Rendering of Waterfront Park Trail

This waterfront park will be the most significant new park and recreation asset created in Camden County within the last 50 years.

The following Bellmawr Waterfront Development Project Update first appeared in the Summer, 2022 edition of the Bellmawr Bulletin. Rendering of the Bellmawr Waterfront Park Trail courtesy: Bellmawr Bulletin.)

We are pleased to report to you on further progress that has been achieved at the Bellmawr Waterfront Development Site.

As many of you may recall, the Project Site is the location of three former landfills — landfills that accepted residential waste from Bellmawr residents and other towns back in the 1960s and 1970.

After the landfills ceased operations, they were never properly capped and closed. This resulted in trash being exposed to the elements and contamination leaching into the adjacent Big Timber Creek.

Fortunately, Mayor Sauter, Borough Council, and the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency have all worked tirelessly for years to ensure that the landfills are finally properly remediated to modern standards established by the NJDEP.

We are pleased to report that since December 2021, the landfills have been capped and remediated, and there is no longer any leachate contamination in Big Timber Creek.

Final rough grading work at the Site is being completed this month. This is a tremendous achievement, given where we started fifteen years ago.

With remediation accomplished, the Borough will now focus on the second part of the master plan first laid out fifteen years ago by BRA Chairman Filipek – the creation of a Waterfront Park and nature trail along the whole length of the Big Timber Creek, between Rt. 295 and the New Jersey Turnpike.

Construction of the Park and Trail is expected to start later this year and will include parking, trails, gazebos, exercise stations, benches, and water access points, for fishing and kayak launching.

Neighboring Runnemede has established a waterfront park system on the opposite side of the Turnpike, and Bellmawr will work cooperatively with Runnemede to see if the trail systems could be connected in some way (by path or by water).

This waterfront park will be the most significant new park and recreation asset created in Camden County within the last 50 years.

Mayor Sauter, Bellmawr Council, as well as former Mayor and current BRA Chairman Filipek, prior Council Members, and Bellmawr’s former longtime Solicitor, the late Bob Messick, have all played crucial parts in bringing this project to fruition.

Many other parties have played crucial roles in helping Bellmawr achieve this great success – including Deptford Mayor Paul Medany (a portion of the Project Site lies in Deptford), Camden County Commissioner Director Lou Cappelli, Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Assemblyman Bill Moen, Assemblyman Bill Spearman, as well as Congressman Donald Norcross, have all truly been “friends of Bellmawr” over the years.

Bellmawr is a small town, and it took the collective efforts of all of these elected officials.

One significant example of the achievements of your elected officials was convincing the NJDOT to invest millions of dollars in local roadway improvements, to hopefully alleviate some of the horrible congestion that currently exists along Creek Road and Harding Ave., which congestion is caused primarily by “Thru Traffic” traveling between Exit 3 of the Turnpike, and Route 42.

In addition to the remediation project and the Waterfront Park, the third goal of Bellmawr’s master plan for this Site was to create tax ratables, jobs, and economic development.

Much progress has been made on this part of the plan as well. For example, after years of work and at a cost of over $1 million, the Redeveloper has recently obtained a crucial Tidelands Grant from the State of New Jersey.

The Redeveloper is also actively working on preparing the site for future beneficial re-use, which will create significant new tax revenues for Bellmawr, and many good-paying construction and permanent job opportunities for our local citizens.

The NJDEP considers the Bellmawr Project a prime example of “how to successfully remediate a former landfill.”

Neighboring Deptford has called the Project an “example of redevelopment done the right way.” We agree – and we could not have gotten this far without the strong and continuing support of the citizens of Bellmawr.

We will provide further updates as this phase of the Project advances this year.

Thank you for your continued support of this important project.