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Harrison Avenue Landfill/Cramer Hill Waterfront Park Project

Video: The Making of Cramer Hill Waterfront Park

The Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR) is transforming 62 acres of the former Harrison Avenue Landfill into the future Cramer Hill Waterfront Park.  This effort is being performed in conjunction with the Division of Coastal Engineering (DCE) and the Camden Redevelopment Agency (CRA).  The project includes shoreline protection, landfill closure, natural resource restoration, and park construction.

ACTIVITIES UPDATE: Site preparation and tree removal began in March 2018.  Site preparation efforts continued into mid-May 2018 when operations shifted focus to performing earthwork activities comprised of excavating, relocating, grading, compacting, and covering the landfill materials.  These activities have already reshaped much of the site’s base elevations which established the final subgrade contours of the park and the majority of those earthwork activities are almost complete.   Once the final rough grades are achieved, an engineered cap will be place on the entire site.  The final cap construction involves placing large volumes of clean fill materials on top of the landfill and is tracked as a separate task for the project.  Final cap construction is underway and in many cases complete along the Delaware River shoreline, in the habitat conservation areas, the kayak channel, at the summit vista, and in the fishing pond.  Please refer to the Cramer Hill Waterfront Park Conceptual Rendering (below) to help visualize where these areas are situated on the site.

Previously completed work includes grading and planting within the northern most tidal wetlands areas.  The conservation island has been stabilized, seeded and planted.  The bioengineered vegetative shoreline (over 3,000 feet!) is constructed and planted up to 12 feet above mean tide, including the 3 living shorelines and 2 structural/hard slope surfaces with vegetation.  The eagle perch poles have been completed and installed in the Delaware River. The northern tidal wetland and tidal wetland channel are planted.  Within the fishing pond, both turtle basking islands have been installed, large and small gravel substrate for spawning beds have been spread out on the bottom with catfish boxes situated in said substrate, piles of boulders and individual logs have been placed around the pond for structure, and the fishing plaza is approximately 95 % constructed.  The pedestrian bridge spanning over the kayak channel was affixed to the concrete abutments and the concrete kayak launch in the kayak channel was recently formed, poured, and finished.

As revised grading and capping is working toward the amphitheater and picnic area, trees and shrubs have been planted on over 50% of the site, including larger specimen trees such as Sycamore. Hydroseeding is also underway behind the northern habitat conservation area and is continuing along the Delaware River just below the summit vista. Gas trenching is nearing completion, and the installation of the collection piping will soon follow. The summit vista overlook, both observation decks, and a smaller observation platform looking out over the Delaware River have been constructed and are near completion. Stone pathways are beginning to take shape meandering through the park’s greenspace and will continue once revised grading and capping have been finalized. The entrance plaza at the corner of E. State Street and Harrison Avenue has been poured with concrete, as well as the curbing and sidewalks along E. State Street and Harrison Avenue. The E. State Street parking lot is also taking shape and is waiting for paving. Playground equipment has been ordered and regular plant deliveries are occurring on site.  

Ongoing work includes maintaining site access and environmental controls; routine cleaning of storm drains and removal of litter from E. State Street and Harrison Avenue; conducting air monitoring, dust suppression, and odor control; monitoring worker health and safety; equipment mobilization/demobilization; material deliveries; installation of the gas venting system; excavation and backfilling of bioretention basins; final grading and placement of the cap materials; planting of trees and shrubs; hydroseeding; and construction of stone pathways.

Cramer Hill Waterfront Park Conceptual rendering of Park showing amenities

Conceptual rendering of Park showing amenities

BACKGROUND: The former 86-acre municipal landfill is in the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden, at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and East State Street where the Cooper River flows into the Delaware River.  The landfill operated from approximately 1952 to 1971, but it was never capped or officially closed which left the site subject to unauthorized dumping in subsequent years.  In 2006 The Salvation Army applied $59 million it received from the estate of Ray and Joan Kroc to construct the Kroc Community Center on 24 acres of the landfill.  The Kroc Community Center opened in 2014 and serves over 8,000 residents.  The NJDEP provided $22 million from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) and another $4 million in public funds during 2006-2014 to remediate the landfill.  ONRR has allocated another $47 million in natural resource damage settlement monies to transform the remaining 62 acres of the landfill into the Cramer Hill Waterfront Park.  The CRA continues to use additional HSDRF monies as part of the ongoing collaborative effort.  Please refer to the “Schedule” section below for information on the bidding milestones and construction schedule.

PROJECT SUMMARY: :  The 62-acre project has 4 main components: shoreline protection, landfill closure, natural resource restoration, and park construction.

The shoreline protection involves regrading and stabilizing over 3,000 feet of shoreline on the Delaware River where municipal solid waste and soil contamination including pesticides and PCBs are exposed on the surface of the unstable, steep slopes in this area of the landfill.

The landfill closure involves excavating and redistributing about 375,000 cubic yards of solid waste and soil onto the center of the landfill, installing a passive gas venting system, and constructing a 2-foot thick semi-permeable cap of clean fill material and vegetation.

Natural resource restoration involves enhancing and expanding the existing freshwater wetlands by constructing approximately 7 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands on both the Cooper and Delaware Rivers, creating 450 feet of living shoreline in 3 areas along the back channel of the Delaware River, preserving 3 areas of existing trees as bald eagle forage habitat, re-planting trees within the remainder of the bald eagle forage habitat including an area where large, specimen trees will be planted.  Over 375,000 plantings are included in the project.  The tidal freshwater wetland on the Cooper River will connect to a fishing pond that will also be a prominent feature of the waterfront park. 

The waterfront park will include features such as an amphitheater, an entry plaza, exercise stations, a fishing plaza, hiking/biking paths and trails, historic/educational signage, a kayak launch, a picnic area, a playground, a sensory garden, shoreline observation areas, and a summit vista with panoramic views of downtown Camden, the Camden Waterfront, the Delaware River, Petty Island, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and Philadelphia.

SCHEDULE: The DCE issued a bid solicitation on December 1, 2017 and awarded the contract to JPC Group, Inc (JPC) on January 30, 2018.  The DCE executed a contract with JPC and issued a Notice to Proceed on February 15, 2018.  Representatives from the City of Camden, CRA, Coopers Ferry, the Camden County Police Department, the Salvation Army, CDM Smith, JPC, DCE, and ONRR attended a February 23, 2018 pre-construction meeting.  JPC began construction on March 5, 2018 and progress continues as described in the “Activities Update” section.

ONRR and CDM Smith will manage the various stages of the construction phase which is tentatively scheduled for completion in August 2021 when the park will open to the public and be turned over to CRA.  ONRR and CDM Smith will also manage JPC’s warrantee monitoring periods and overall compliance with land use permit mitigation requirements into 2025.

STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT: ONRR invites stakeholders to attend monthly partnering meetings to which provide the opportunity for ongoing public participation with the project.  The stakeholder group is comprised of representatives for the entities listed above.  The meetings began in March 2018 and we plan to continue holding them for the duration of the project.

ONRR also hosted two public information sessions at The Salvation Army Kroc Center. The first was held on July 24, 2017 to introduce the design plans to the community and the second was held on June 25, 2018 to update the community and stakeholders while construction was underway.

Project pictures and videos showing the progress of construction activities may be seen on our gallery page

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Last Updated: May 10, 2021