By David Cruz
It’s not just the politically observant who have noticed the governor’s fondness for Camden. Chris Christie has been here a half a dozen times over the past year or so.
“One of the students said, ‘Why do you come here so often?’ I said, ‘Because I believe in this place and every day as governor you’re looking for places where you can have a direct positive effect.’ Well, I believe Camden is one of those places. One of the best opportunities, if not the best opportunity, in New Jersey,” Christie said.
Whether he’s announcing the revamping of the Camden County Police force or breaking ground on new educational and medical facilities, the governor — like any good guest — never shows up empty-handed. Today was no exception as Christie announced a $50 million renovation for the city’s historic Castle on the Hill, Camden High School.
“Camden High School is an iconic place. Unfortunately, over the course of time, this iconic place has fallen behind the quality of the students who come here,” said the governor.
At least $50 million from the School’s Development Authority will go to some pressing needs at the school, which once housed as many as 3,000 students but now serves less than half that. A new heating system, electrical upgrades, new windows and roof repairs as well as technological upgrades for teachers and students will all be included.
“Our plan is for the new Camden High to have four independent learning communities, each with a unique theme and a direct link to college or career opportunities here in Camden,” Rouhanifard said.
Preliminary work would begin early next year, but the bulk of construction is at least a couple of years off. Still, it’s a promissory note on which Mayor Dana Redd believes the governor will make good.
“The governor was there in 2010 when we had probably the most catastrophic year for the city of Camden when I was coming into office, so he didn’t shy away from responding to a Democratic mayor. In fact, my call for help was answered by Gov. Christie, and I’m grateful,” Redd said.
With record-breaking reductions in crime and, according to the mayor, a major announcement due next week on economic development projects, the governor is finding Camden to be a place where he is doing well by doing some good.
“There’s been lots of talk over time about Camden. What I’m proudest of over the last five years is that we’ve done as much doing as talking,” Christie said.
The $50 million is just the latest investment by the governor, who knows that helping to turn around what used to be known as the most dangerous city in America is a great story. One you could tell over and over again on the campaign trail.