Lake Reclaimed for Camden County (NJ)

Lindenwold, NJ, 8/28/01: Lake Worth was officially declared a Camden County Park today in an announcement made by the Trust for Public Land and the Camden County Board of Freeholders. Lake Worth, originally called Haines Lake and run as a private bathing beach since the 1920’s, now becomes the twentieth park in Camden County. Lake Worth, once a popular destination for swimming, picnicking and fishing, has not been operational since 1989, and has fallen into disrepair and drained of all water. Today’s unique private/public announcement bestows a new lease on life for this park that will reopen after improvements and renovations.

Also announced was the official launch of the River to Bay Greenway. Lake Worth is one of the properties identified in the plan for the proposed multi-use recreational greenway that spans the width of southern New Jersey and links the Delaware River and the Barnegat Bay. The River to Bay Greenway, an initiative of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in partnership with local communities, will provide linkages to existing parks, protect additional land and create new parks. By protecting land to create new parks, as is the case with Lake Worth, the River to Bay Greenway will enhance recreational resources for urban and suburban residents in rapidly growing Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.

The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, negotiated the purchase of the 43-acre Lake Worth property from the Dickinson family, which owned the lake for more than a century, and transferred the land to the Camden County Department of Parks. The $1.195 million purchase was made possible by funds from Camden County ($945,000), a state Green Acres grant to TPL ($150,000) and the William Penn Foundation ($100,000).

“I spent many, many years at Lake Worth when I was growing up. It is one of the most beautiful sites in Camden County and I’m very excited in being able to preserve it,” Mayor Frank DeLucca, Jr. of Lindenwold Borough.

“We are pleased to see Camden County and its municipalities proactively meeting the open space needs of its residents,” said Cindy Gilman, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “I look forward to working with communities across southern New Jersey to help them realize their open space goals and establish a link between the Delaware River and the Barnegat Bay and the many important natural, historical and recreational resources in between. Communities in southern New Jersey are growing at unprecedented rates and are facing tremendous development pressure,” added Gilman. “We must act now to protect our state’s remaining natural resources and wildlife habitat.”

“Longtime residents of Camden County remember enjoying lazy summer days at Lake Worth,” said Freeholder Laurelle Cummings, liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “As part of the Camden County Parks System, this beautiful resource will be brought back to life and preserved for future generations.”

The concept plan released today was prepared by Strauss Associates and BLOSS Associates, independent consultants contracted by the Trust for Public Land. The plan is intended to serve as a framework or “greenprint” to be used by municipal agencies and nonprofit organizations as a guide for implementing land acquisition and planning activities. The Trust for Public Land and Strauss and Associates solicited input from eight communities in Camden County, which will host the first phase of the greenway. Several towns in Camden County have embraced the idea and have identified their existing open space goals and how they can be met or enhanced by the greenway plan.

The River to Bay Greenway builds on TPL’s successful open space planning and land acquisition efforts in the Barnegat Bay. The organization’s 1995 plan, “The Century Plan: A Study of One Hundred Conservation Sites in the Barnegat Bay Watershed,” has become the “greenprint” for conservation in the watershed. To date, TPL has protected more than 7,000 acres in the Barnegat Bay. Agencies and other nonprofit organizations have protected several thousand additional acres.

The Trust for Public Land, founded in 1972 and based in San Francisco, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, conservation finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. To date, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres of land nationwide including more than 14,000 acres in New Jersey.

This is the twentieth park to be established as part of the Camden County Parks system. With the addition of the Lake Worth property, Camden County, through the County’s Open Space Program, is on target to preserve more than 460 acres of open space by year’s end. Expectations are that more than 2,000 acres will be protected by 2010.

Maps detailing the proposed River to Bay Greenway are provided below. These files may take longer to download if using a slower connection speed.