On Monday night, the City of Camden took an important step in becoming "first" for something of which we can all be proud. Camden's Zoning Board approved the nation's first 100 percent charitable billboard; a sign that will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to underfunded nonprofits in Camden for a generation or more. My family was proud to support that effort as a permanent legacy to our dad and grandfather, Lewis Katz, who loved his hometown, Walt Whitman's "city invincible," and did so much to help it.
We appreciate the time the members of the zoning board took to listen to all opposing views of the project. Their careful and thoughtful consideration of the merits of the project served the city well. Camden should be proud to have such dedicated public servants working for it.
Everyone in attendance, whether in support or in opposition, were passionate in their views and respectful in voicing those views. We are grateful to the hundreds of Camden residents who attended the meeting to voice their support and others who wrote letters, made phone calls, and signed petitions. My family and I pledge our continued commitment to the city of Camden and will work to earn the support of those who opposed our project. We respect their point of view, but believe the benefits of this project far outweigh concerns.
The fate of the project is now in the hands of Camden Mayor Frank Moran, who is granted extraordinary powers under the state's 2002 Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act. The mayor will have 10 days to veto the project, a power that mayors in other municipalities do not have. The clocks starts once he receives the minutes of the board's action.
I am perplexed by public reports that say Mayor Moran is weighing whether to veto the project. The mayor was one of the first public officials my team and I met with early last spring. At our City Hall meeting, we outlined the project and were encouraged by the mayor's response. He was, in a word, supportive. He was extremely helpful in providing guidance on who we should speak to and which groups we should meet with. We were grateful for his advice and met with each of the groups and individuals he requested.
I remain optimistic about the mayor's decision, and I am hopeful that we will soon see a day in Camden when so many in the city can reap the benefits of this unique charitable project.
There is not a single day that goes by that I do not think about my dad. To establish this permanent lasting legacy that honors both his generosity to, and affection for, the city of Camden holds deep meaning for my family and me. I hope this vision will become a reality soon.