Access Granted! (Access Denied)

See how the Cramer Hill, New Jersey community is re-imagining their long-forgotten waterfront as a center for life and commerce on the edge.

access, camden, community planning, ecology, new jersey, open space planning, waterfronts


Jennifer Martel


Jacqueline Marion

Can a neglected brownfield site be the gateway to a long-obscured waterfront? In the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden, New Jersey, residents are formalizing their vision for a public and accessible waterfront, starting with plans to turn a former landfill into an all-season waterfront park. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Cramer Hill residents said when the city gives you a pile of trash, get out your sled.

The ambitious plans include a host of amenities, including ball fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, a splash park, an ice-skating rink, a community building, a boating center, multi-use trails, overlooks, environmental education, and even a giant sledding hill.

The park came to fruition through a rigorous community-led design process, starting with a look at the big picture. The Waterfront Park Master Plan develops a long-term vision for the entire waterfront that considers various future ownership and development scenarios as well as local and regional transportation and recreation. With the help of planners and designers from WRT, the community was able to set goals, build consensus, and illustrate their vision.

There is still a long road ahead which involves navigating a forest of regulations and permits and approvals, but this rough road will be made smoother by the solid community-backed vision already developed. At the end of this long road will be the reclamation of a waterfront—and a community that looks forward to snow storms.