Goodbye Riverfront, Hello Revitalization

Residents, Officials support prison demolition project

The proposed closing of the Riverfront State Prison in Camden, NJ got another ally Thursday night when the Camden County Board of Freeholders voted unanimously to support Governor Corzine's plan to close the facility as early as this summer.

“The best view of Philadelphia is enjoyed by the inmates, who are sentenced criminals, who take up the most valuable property,” said Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash.

North Camden residents packed into Thursday’s Freeholders meeting to lend their support to the plan which would demolish the Delaware waterfront prison under the Ben Franklin Bridge and replace it with parks and entertainment centers.

The plan even includes waterfront housing with primo views of Philadelphia. Residents are thrilled.

“This is an opportunity for us to improve the quality of life in our neighborhood, to take or neighborhood back,” said Camden resident Rod Sadler.

Wilbert Mitchell agrees saying residents will once again have hope.

“Camden has been a dumping ground for many years. People see the prison being demolished, they will have hope,” Mitchell said.

The prison holds nearly 800 inmates, who would need to be sent to any of the state's 13 other facilities.

The union representing the Riverfront prison guards is fighting to keep it open, but residents in north camden say a prison on the city's best piece of real estate is not the image they want.

“We are going to close that prison and it’s the greatest day we’re gonna have in Camden when all of you get to drive the bulldozer through those gates,” Nash said.

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