Action Mountain, Long Dead, May Revive The Old Amusement Spot Might Get New Fun: Golf. Pine Hill Is Serious. It Would Add Tax Revenue.

Posted: May 05, 1996

PINE HILL — On a clear day, the view over the treetops from the peak of the former Action Mountain amusement park extends to Philadelphia.

But it's a long way up - past a charred ski lodge, graffiti-covered buildings, and haphazard pieces of tubing left over from the area's days as a water park. Several fires, illegal dumping by residents, and the company's bankruptcy have turned the former ski mountain and water and amusement park into a veritable haunted house.

But the site may soon be reborn, this time as a lush golf course that would rival the one in neighboring Pine Valley, Mayor Curtis Noe said recently while standing atop the mountain, located in the northwest corner of the borough.

The borough foreclosed on the 182-acre site in December, and already has a half-dozen developers interested, Noe said.

``It hasn't generated revenue in 10 years,'' Noe said. Constructing a public golf course would be a ``big enhancement to the image of Pine Hill.''

The plan is all part of a major push for economic development in the borough, where only 3 percent of taxable property is commercial businesses. Home owners shoulder most of the remaining tax burden. Officials say they hope that drawing in more business will stabilize the local tax rate, currently at 77 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

``We want to lower taxes and discourage more housing from being built,'' said Thomas Hassett who is a borough councilman. ``Pine Hill is a bedroom community. There is very little industry. It's famous for its Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wawa.''

Pine Hill is also one of four towns in South Jersey with no major state highway going through it, and that has inhibited commercial growth, Noe said.

Last month, the Borough Council voted to hire the Atlantic Group, a Cranbury-based professional consultant, to analyze seven areas in this 4.1-square-mile town as targets for growth. A preliminary report is expected in three weeks.

The report will recommend two spots but will detail all seven, which include the former Action Mountain site. The others are:

* New Freedom Road, which has about 200 acres of open space.

* A 150-acre area along Cross Keys Road, which will be expanded into a five-lane highway starting at the end of the year. Noe said the area would be ideal for a restaurant, strip shopping center and professional buildings.

* The current business district along Erial Road, which will be expanded.

* A 220-acre Boy Scout reservation, which was put up for sale by the financially strapped Camden County Boy Scout Council in July.

* A mile-long stretch along the bustling Blackwood Clementon Road.

* An area along Branch Avenue.

The town's Economic Development Commission has been meeting twice a month, said Hassett, who is also the chairman of the panel. The group is also examining tax abatements and an enterprise zone.

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