(Camden, NJ) - On Wednesday, June 6, the Camden Collaborative Initiative (CCI) hosted the 2018 Camden Environmental Summit at Rutgers-Camden Campus Center. Presented by New Jersey American Water, the sixth annual Summit attracted more than 200 residents, environmental leaders, advocates, and stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
The summit’s agenda highlighted CCI’s plans to eliminate combined sewage flooding in the City of Camden by 2020, the City’s commitment to providing a high-quality park within a 10-minute walk of every Camden resident, and the details of a $34 million brownfield remediation and park development project at the former Harrison Avenue Landfill.
“Through the energy of many dynamic partnerships and collaborations, Camden is rising, becoming stronger, and righting environmental wrongs of the past – which are substantial but by no means unsurmountable,” said Mayor Frank Moran in his first annual “Sustainability Address.”
Denise Venuti Free, Director of Communications and External Affairs for New Jersey American Water, the event’s sponsor, said, “New Jersey American Water knows how critical it is to use the best and most sustainable practices available to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. That’s why we are so proud of our service and our partnership with the City of Camden and the Camden Collaborative Initiative to preserve the environmental health of this growing community.”
“Every community deserves access to a clean and safe water supply. We must invest in updating our aging water infrastructure to improve our communities and add high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said Congressman Donald Norcross, Co-Chair of the Rebuilding America Task Force and Founder of the Bipartisan Building Trades Caucus. “The only path forward for our country is to build a 21st century clean-energy economy.”
Mayor Moran recognized recipients of Camden’s 2018 Environmental Hero Awards, which included Olivia Glenn of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry; the City of Camden Department of Public Works; Monsignor Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Church; PowerCorps Camden; and Dr. Steven Fine, teacher at Dr. Charles Brimm Medical Arts High School.
The day-long summit also featured a panel on Camden’s parks and waterways, which spotlighted efforts to strengthen Camden through strategic, collaborative, and dynamic investments in its parks, waterways, and waterfronts. Over the past five years, over $10 million has been invested in the expansion and revitalization of the City’s park system, with an additional $50 million to come in the next five years.
“Studies show that cities with a lot of well-connected green spaces are more resilient to extreme environmental events, such as heat waves and extreme rainfall,” said Kris Kolluri, President and CEO of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. “Parks and other urban green spaces also enhance community vibrancy and economic development, generating a value of up to $6.8 billion annually nationwide.”
Launched in 2013, the Camden Collaborative Initiative (CCI) is a partnership between more than 70 governmental, non-profit, private, and community-based agencies to implement innovative strategies to improve the environment and the quality of life of Camden's residents. Led by the City of Camden, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cooper's Ferry Partnership, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, CCI is comprised of seven working groups that focus on air quality, environmental justice, brownfields, waste and recycling, health and wellness, stormwater management, and environmental education.
CCI serves as a model for proactive, voluntary, and urban environmental enhancement partnerships. Since its creation, CCI has transformed a five-acre contaminated waterfront parcel into a public park; cleaned and secured the state of New Jersey’s largest urban illegal dumping hotspot; engaged thirty Camden City high school students in the Green Jobs Summer Ambassadors Program; constructed 50 green infrastructure projects that capture 62 million gallons of stormwater runoff every year; and facilitated the City’s Sustainable Jersey Silver certification.
For more information on the 2018 Camden Environmental Summit or CCI, please visit www.camdencollaborative.com.