A 346-acre Camden County riverfront park, which dates back to the 1930s federal Works Progress Administration, is among New Jersey's 2013 "Great Places" in a list announced Monday by the state chapter of the American Planning Association.
Cooper River Park winding along the Cooper River through parts of Pennsauken, Cherry Hill, Haddon Township and Collingswood is one of two "Great Public Spaces" named by the APA-NJ in its annual list that began just last year. The other public splace cited this year is South Hoboken Waterfront in Hudson County.
"Cooper River Park is a sterling illustration of the outcome of good plans and planning, both in its design and development, and by the measures taken by Camden County to preserve and even improve its character over time,” APA-NJ President Charles Latini, Jr. said. "The Park is highly worthy of its place on APA-NJ’s Great Places map."
Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash last year called it "the crown jewel of our county park system" last when at the time when officials began discussing a $23 million expansion of the park. Later last year, open space advocates, Friends of Cooper River Park West, called for the expansion to go well west of Route 130 into Camden.
Nash said Monday in a statement that the park will indeed have improvements made in the near future.
"Since 1935, people from all over South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania have converged upon Cooper River Park to experience its wide array of recreational facilities, regular events, cultural heritage, and spectacular views," Nash said. "And with over $5 million already committed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders for additional improvements, Cooper River will continue to be utilized as a hub for regional recreation and leisure in the years to come."
Along with the two "Great Public Spaces," the APA-NJ also cited three "Great Downtowns": Downtown Freehold in Freehold Borough, Monmouth County; Downtown Westfield in Westfield Town, Union County; and Montclair Center in Montclair Township, Essex County.
In the inaugural list of "Great Places" last year," Downtown Bordentown in Bordentown City, Burlington County, was among New Jersey's recognized places.
Here's a clip from Camden County showing the virtues of Cooper River Park: