Archive: July, 2012
Lots of greening and health-related projects are going on in Camden these days.
The Nature Conservancy, as part of a new mission of working in urban areas, has teamed up with the Camden SMART initiative to green and beautify the city.
The Camden SMART initiative, which is a private-public partnership with various organizations in the city, is meant to develop a network of green infrastructure projects such as storm water management with rain gardens. The Nature Conservancy planted a rain garden last week outside of Woodrow Wilson High School and is now gearing up to do the larger installation around Von Neida Park in Cramer Hill.
The Cooper Foundation and TEAM Schools, a branch of the national network of KIPP the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools, will announce a partnership today to develop five new schools in Camden’s Lanning Square neighborhood.
Proposals for a new type of public school in Camden called “Renaissance Schools” are due at 2 p.m. today. Cooper and KIPP officials will hold a news conference at 1:30 this afternoon to announce details of their partnership and the plan to house more than 2,800 students at the KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy.
The Cooper Foundation, the charitable arm of Cooper University Hospital, along with Cooper Chairman George E. Norcross III have been eyeing the Lanning Square School site since at least February to build a Renaissance School campus. Norcross is a managing partner in the company that owns The Inquirer.
The Camden City School Board approved late last night to name deputy superintendent Reuben Mills interim superintendent.
For the last couple weeks, Mills had been acting interim superintendent, after the board's plan to hire an interim fell through at the last minute. (Read back story HERE.) The board's plan was to find an interim and then start the search for a permanent superintendent.
However, in a decision that transpired late Tuesday, the board named Mills interim superintendent and will now focus on a national search for a superintendent. No details have been released yet on how the board will conduct the search.
Given the surge of violence in Camden this month (at least 10 dead and several with gunshot wounds), several community groups are asking the public to join them Wednesday to discuss possible solutions.
The Camden District Council Collaborative Board, a group of volunteers that works to address public-safety and quality-of-life issues, is hosting the community forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cathedral Hall in downtown Camden. DCCB representatives will go over some existing resources to report crime such as the GIS map the DCCB developed, in partnership with Hopeworks, which people can use to report quality-of-life issues, from abandoned houses to streetlight outages.
So far this year, Camden has seen 36 homicides -- about a third more than at the same time last year.
With the deadline quickly approaching (July 27) for proposals for Renaissance Schools in Camden, the state Department of Education will host four community meetings next week to explain the Urban Hope Act to parents and community members.
Under the Urban Hope Act - sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) - nonprofit entities can construct a renaissance institution, or lease a privately owned building, and operate a school with 95 percent of the costs coming from Camden public schools. Renaissance schools may hire private companies without public bidding for a range of services, including staffing, management, and bookkeeping.
A the center of the local debate on Renaissance Schools is the Lanning Square School site, which Cooper Hospital Foundation (read previous story HERE) has set its eyes on for a school project. A group of community activists held a community meeting last week to discuss the Lanning Square School project and the possibility of turning it into a Renaissance School. However, no one from the state or city attended the meeting.
Camden’s Wiggins Park on the waterfront will feel like the lido deck on a cruise ship Saturday.
The 12th annual South Jersey Caribbean Festival will bring in reggae and calypso bands, a Latin dance troop and food vendors from almost every Caribbean island.
The South Jersey Caribbean Cultural Organization, in collaboration with the Camden City Mayor's Youth Council, is hosting the free event from noon to 8 p.m. Attendance is expected to surpass the 4,000 record from last year, said festival coordinator Dave Benjamin.
While the idea to auction vending spots available in Camden's downtown district and waterfront was squashed (for now) at Tuesday’s city council meeting, a similar ordinance made it through first reading.
An ordinance to regulate the use of pedicabs for hire in the city was presented by Code Enforcement Director Iraida Afanador , who said she had witnessed the use of pedicabs on the waterfront this summer.
“We had nothing to charge them with,” Afanador said Tuesday. The city does not have any regulations concerning the use of pedicabs, also known as rickshaws, a tricycle-type device mostly seen in tourist districts.