Wednesday, May 27, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 7:04 PM
Lewis Katz spoke at Temple University's commencement in 2014. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)

Friends, family and admirers of businessman and philanthropist Lewis Katz are rallying behind his New Jersey Hall of Fame nomination.

Katz, who was 72 when he died in a plane crash on May 31, 2014, is among 10 men and women named in the Hall's "enterprise" category.

Other nominees with South Jersey ties include former NAACP presiident and Camden native Bruce S. Gordon; Moorestown industrialist Samuel Leeds Allen, who patented the Flexible Flyer sled;  trailblazing Atlantic City businesswoman Sara Spencer Washington; and John A. Roebling, whose Florence Township steelworks forged the cables for the Brooklyn Bridge.

POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 5:18 PM
Camden in the early 1950s, before urban "renewal" obliterated most of downtown. (Photo: DVRBS.com)

Despite having mostly failed for more than half a century, top-down redevelopment schemes are all the rage again in Camden.

Politicians elected and un-elected are shovelling massive amounts of public funds, government subsidies and tax 'incentives' to woo big corporations to Camden, where the hollowed-out blocks and tax-exempt tundras of downtown and the waterfront showcase the downside of the boardroom-driven urban "renewal" that has prevailed for decades.

To teach residents how to benefit from or create economic development opportunities closer to where they live, two respected grassroots organizations are partnering with Rutgers-Camden to offer an "Economy of Inclusion" policy forum  at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 28 at St Anthony of Padua Church, 2818 River Rd..

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 4:43 PM
The boathouse at Cooper River Park. Photo by Newsworks.org

A grassroots campaign to have the heart of Cooper River Park declared a historic district may get a boost from a separate and rather ominous designation.

The private, nonprofit advocacy group Preservation New Jersey announced Thursday that the same portion of the Camden County park -- sometimes called the Cooper Lake -- has been placed on the latest list of the state's "10 most endangered places."

"We're grateful for Preservation NJ's recognition of the threat to the park," said Kevin Cook, who with fellow Cherry Hill resident Robert Shinn wrote Along the Cooper River, a new book about the park's history. "I'm pleased that our effort to create the Cooper River Park Historic District may reach a larger audience."

Shinn said the designation "should be a wake-up call" for Camden County, which has resisted the district proposal at every turn. County officials did not respond to my requests for comment Friday, but have previously said the designation is unnecessary and could complicate ongoing park improvement projects.

POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 11:08 AM
Waterfront South neighborhood. Image: Philly.com

Camden residents will take to the streets Friday to help document connections and disconnections for walkers and cyclists in the Waterfront South neighborhood.

Volunteers will fan out from the CCMUA building on Ferry Avenue around 1 p.m. and begin noting sidewalk conditions; crosswalk, bike lane and walking trail availability, and pedestrian and cycling linkages (or the lack thereof) with neighborhood green spaces like the new Phoenix Park. The nonprofit advocacy group  Tri-State Transportation Campaign is conducting the asessment, which will continue into the weekend.

"We'll be mapping areas where improvements can be made, so that local residents and organizations can push for changes," Matthew Norris, the campaign's South Jersey coordinator, tells me. The effort is being paid for under a $10,000 grant from the Shaping New Jersey program of the state health department.

POSTED: Thursday, May 7, 2015, 4:00 PM
The Camden Kroc Center (photo provided)

The Salvation Army leadership team that steered the $90 million Camden Kroc Center to completion is leaving for new assignments.

"It has been one of the accomplishments of a lifetime...the star on our resume," said Maj. Paul Cain, who with his wife, Maj. Alma Cain, will report for duty in Cleveland, Ohio at the end of June. Second-in-command captains Luis and Zaida Rivera have been reassigned to Dover, NJ.

The new team will be headed by Maj. Terry L. Wood and his wife, Maj. Susan E. Wood.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 3:34 PM

Joe Zanghi eases his Lincoln Town Car onto Chapel Avenue, where pillowy clouds of cherry blossoms float along both sides of the busy thoroughfare.

"Morning, you drive west. Evening, you drive east," Zanghi, 79, advises, as we cruise through a particularly lush stretch around Kilmer School. "East gives you the better show iin the evening. The blossoms are orange-pink, because of the [setting] sun's rays."

Welcome to Cherry Hill's annual spring extravaganza, a two-mile parade of double-bloom Kwanzan cherry trees  the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society honored as a "Garden of Distinction" in 2014.

POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9:13 AM
Brian O'Neill, developer of a proposed Haddonfield rehab, takes a question from a member of the audience of about 300 people at Wednesday's meeting. Photo by Kevin Riordan

Brian O'Neill seems like a fine salesman, and he's certainly passionate about his product.

But when he described a $25,000 crystal chandelier as part of his pitch for an upscale addiction treatment center, a Haddonfield audience went a little South Philly on him.

With boos, catcalls and shout-downs, they let the Conshohocken, Pa. developer know they weren't gonna buy his plan to replace the Bancroft school campus on Kings Highway with a 120-bed rehab.

POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 3:44 PM
Image courtesy of streetsblogusa.com

A plague of parking lots has turned much of central Camden into an asphalt sea.

"Tundra" also describes the paved-over nothingness that a half century of redevelopment schemes gone (mostly) wrong has wrought in the tough old town's heart.

Now there's a new term for the void: "Golden Crater."

About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

Kevin Riordan Inquirer Columnist
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