The mart building to be constructed in Camden is just Phase 1 of the project as we've conceived it. Phases 2 and 3 would include a supermarket, a drugstore, a bank and restaurants. Phase 1 represents a $25 million investment. We are not asking for one penny from the city or county for this project.
Unfortunately, I cannot fully commit to the relocation project and the high development costs without a commitment from the Camden County Improvement Authority that it will not condemn the Pennsauken Mart property until the Camden location is constructed. I am very confused as to why an agency that supports redevelopment and investment in the county would not be doing everything in its power to make the Camden project a reality.
On March 20, the Camden County freeholders voted to approve a $35 million bond issue to pay for the acquisition of the properties where the arena is to be constructed, including the mart property. Many of the tenants expressed deep concern that without a new location they will lose their livelihoods, businesses that in some cases have been built over 30 years.
It's hard to understand why the improvement authority and the freeholders ignore our attempts to reach an agreement on the timing of the Camden relocation. The merchants of the mart, their employees, their families, and the people of the city and county deserve better.
EMK Penn Realty
Thanks for asking
On March 27 I attended a Winslow Township school board budget meeting. Board member Jody Harvey raised some valid questions, particularly about increases that were left off the information sheets issued to the public.
Why was there a $50,000 increase for workbooks for basic-skills programs? This seems like an extremely large increase to the new reading program we bought this year and the new math program we are buying.
Why are we installing lights for our football field if we don't even know how much it will cost to use them?
The taxpayers would not be aware of these issues were it not for board members like Mrs. Harvey. We have also elected certain individuals who are now attacking Mrs. Harvey simply for raising questions. Mrs. Harvey will not be seeking reelection, and I can't say I blame her.
I just want to say to Mrs. Harvey: Thank you from all of us who stood behind you these last three years. We know you tried your best to improve things for us.
Is anyone besides me tired of the stock comment given by builders every time the governor proposes an environmental control?
They see any measure to protect our water and preserve space as an effort to put them out of business. Do they think we just fell off the turnip truck?
The claim that there is an overwhelming demand for housing in South Jersey is nonsense. There is a demand for affordable housing. What have the builders done for the last 20 to 30 years to meet this demand, when there was land on which to build houses? They were busy building McMansions that priced the average Joe right out of the market.
Now there is little land left, and the builders are crying foul because our government is doing what it can to preserve space and protect South Jersey's precious aquifers and water supply. Mr. Builder, who do you think you're fooling?
A soccer highlight
I would like to commend your newspaper for the excellent article ("Camden gives soccer league a big kickoff," March 31).
As a high school teacher and head soccer coach in Atlantic City, I see the limited opportunities children face every day. The formation of the Camden Soccer League is a great moment for everyone involved. All the volunteers and children should be applauded. Giving these children (and parents) something positive to do only helps the entire community out and provides for a better future for everyone.
Egg Harbor Township
Hardship of college
As the mother of a college-bound son, I can definitely empathize with Nicole Wise's situation ("Wanted: Merit-based aid to expand students' options," March 31).
We are sorting out acceptances and financial aid packages. My son was fortunate enough to receive some merit money from four schools, but it only begins to make a dent in the cost of the private colleges, and that doesn't include travel expenses or incidentals.
When you are middle-class, you are stuck! You are not financially needy enough to qualify for need-based financial aid, nor are you affluent enough to do without assistance.
Do you send your child to a state school because it is affordable, or take out enormous loans to pay for a private-college education and go into debt for several years? Investments have depreciated considerably, yet the cost of a college education continues to rise way beyond inflation.
I realize that there are more pressing issues for the world to cope with, but perhaps it is time for the government to step in and somehow cap tuition rates so private colleges will be more affordable for those who qualify academically but face hardship with the financing aspects.
If education is the key to a better future, something should be done so the expenditure can be realistic without causing excessive hardship.