Camden County’s Cooper River Park could become a much better version of itself now that the county is beginning a long-awaited $23 million, five-year face-lift that will bring people to the water’s edge for recreation.
This is a welcome project in a park that will pull together urban and suburban outdoor enthusiasts looking for a good softball game, run, picnic, walk, bike ride, or boat race, or who just want to throw a line in the water and hope a bass or catfish bites.
Too few people enjoy the river’s edge on the Jersey side, but Philadelphia landscape architects Cairone and Kaupp have designed a handsome combination of paths, boardwalks, and overlooks to bring more visitors there.
Right now, river access is slightly limited in some areas by brush, mud, and goose droppings. Camden County freeholders also plan to protect the river-banks from erosion.
The burnishing comes as the park has grown into a premier venue for collegiate, high school, and masters rowing events, including the Garden State and Cooper Cup regattas, which are set for this weekend.
Beyond filling hotels and restaurants left flat by the closing of the Garden State Race Track, the regattas have brought national attention to the stretch of riverfront open space between Cuthbert Boulevard and Route 130 that meanders through Haddon Township, Collingswood, Cherry Hill, and Pennsauken.
Separate from this project, the freeholders plan to spend $5 million to dredge the river to put it in top shape for rowers.
Eventually, the freeholders want to improve the link between Cooper River Park and Camden’s nearby Gateway Park.
Gateway replaced sleazy motels, bars, and porn shops along Admiral Wilson Boulevard with trees, grass, and flowering plants. The county should speed up its plans so more runners, bikers, and picnickers can enjoy the river.