A plan to make Linwood an environmentally sound, pedestrian-friendly municipality is slowly taking shape.
The city is in line to receive $1.2 million in green space funding from the state to help purchase 17.76 acres behind the Cornerstone Commerce Center.
Residents who live along the northern buffer of the complex, which currently owns the land, had previously expressed concern about losing the natural vegetation, based on the original design of the complex, which allowed for expansion.
Mayor Rick DePamphilis said the concerns are being addressed, and “we are keeping our promise.”
Resident Harold Moore, who lives on Richards Drive, said he is happy to hear the city intends to buy the land, but he is not too thrilled about an extension of the bike path in the area, which the plans include.
“They should just leave it as it is,” he said.
The Kellners, Bartlett Avenue residents for more than 40 years, agreed.
Doug Kellner said the wooded area used to be thicker, and the threat of losing the buffer made him almost decide to move.
“I don’t want to wake up every morning and look at a three-story building. I’m an outdoors guy,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense. But if a bike path comes, it comes,” said his wife, Evelyn.
Though the green-space funding has been approved by the Governor’s Office, it has to be passed by the state Senate and Assembly, said city Planning Board and Environmental Commission member Jim Rutala.
That funding includes $250,000 from the Frank H. Stewart Trust and $953,000 from the state Department of Environmental Protetcion.
The total purchase price of the property is $1.8 million, DePamphilis said, adding that the remaining $600,000 would come from a grant from Atlantic County, if approved. The city has not received a response yet from the county.
The funds will be used to purchase and maintain the buffer area to Cornerstone, and will be an addition to the city-owned property along Patcong Creek, Rutala said.
The purchase of the land allows the city to consider a larger plan — creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment and showcasing the complex, city officials said.
Cornerstone’s parent company, Delaware-based CCC Atlantic LLC, filed for bankruptcy in December. But DePamphilis said that will not affect plans for an extended bike path near the property.
“We are still interested in the property regardless of what happens,” he said.
The city was previously awarded a $270,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation to extend portions of the path. This includes a plan to wind a path by Mainland Regional High School and into Cornerstone, Rutala said.
A traffic signal on Route 9 to facilitate a safe crossing on the extended bike path, if it comes to fruition, is also in the works, Rutala said.
Evelyn Kellner said, “I’m just looking to keep that buffer. That’s the important thing.”
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