Two South Jersey towns show how millions from the Federal Infrastructure Act could be used

In Camden, they plan to dig up Elijah Perry Park and renovate it with new basketball courts, baseball diamond, soccer field, playground and gazebo at a cost of around $3 million.

In Moorestown, they have already expanded and upgraded the North Church Street water treatment plant, once closed after a contaminating industrial solvent was found in a well. The cost: nearly $20 million.

Federal, state and local authorities announced funds on Friday that will pay for the excavation of Camden Park and provide zero-rate financing for the Moorestown plant. They say it’s a preview of what’s to come as money begins to flow from the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed late last year by President Joe Biden.

Camden received $3.5 million, of the $6.5 million the US EPA has set aside for brownfield projects in New Jersey outside of the Infrastructure Act.

The money comes from $1.5 billion allocated under the law for environmental justice, economic revitalization and the cleanup of contaminated properties. Overall, the law set aside $254.5 million in brownfield grants to 265 U.S. communities.

The share donated to Camden will go to the Camden Redevelopment Agency, which will use some of this money to clean up Elijah Perry Park in South Camden.

Joe Myers, COO of Camden Community Partnership, formerly Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, said the park is considered contaminated due to the ‘old fill’ that was used to build it, although there are no known toxins on the site. As a result, the park will be demolished and that fill will be excavated and replaced with clean fill over the course of a year at a cost of around $800,000, Myers said. His group is a partner in the project.

The remaining $2.7 million of the $3.5 million received by the Camden Redevelopment Agency will be split for the cleanup of five other sites. The park itself will be funded by a mixture of other funds.

“Now this EPA funding will also help leverage millions of dollars in new investments like this park renovation, Elijah Perry Park, and more,” said Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen.

“We are seeing more money coming back into our communities, especially in this county [Camden]than ever before,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D., NJ).

READ MORE: New Jersey Gets $1 Billion For Water Infrastructure, But Asks: Will Anyone Come For It?

In Moorestown, Mayor Nicole Gillespie said the township’s North Church Street water treatment plant had to be closed six years ago due to contamination. The plant reopened several years ago and now filters out 1,2,3-trichloropropane and dioxin contaminants. The plant draws from a 400 foot deep well and pumps up to 3 million gallons of clean water per day.

Although the city council undertook the plan to rebuild the factory, it had to do so through loans.

On Friday, the EPA announced $221 million in aid for New Jersey’s water infrastructure. Addressing outdated drinking water infrastructure is one of the Biden administration’s primary goals through the infrastructure bill.

READ MORE: New Jersey Gets $1 Billion For Water Infrastructure, But Asks: Will Anyone Come For It?

The state‘s Infrastructure I-Bank will lend the money to community water utilities for upgrading treatment plants, pipes and other drinking water infrastructure.

Moorestown will receive a $19.85 million interest-free loan to pay off the plant, saving taxpayers about 30% on other interest he would have paid on short-term notes.

“It’s some of the cleanest water in the state, if not the cleanest,” Gillespie said of the water now filtered at the plant, calling it one of the biggest investments in the hydraulic infrastructures of the history of the canton. “…Not only does this provide our residents with safe drinking water, but it allows us, as a local governing body, to maintain control over the quality of that water and the pricing. The investment was therefore worth it. »

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