Camden County officials on Thursday announced a $100 million “Parks Alive 2025″ plan they call the biggest overhaul of the county’s park system since it was envisioned a century ago by Eldridge Johnson, then CEO of the Victor Talking Machine Co., which became RCA.

A key part of the revitalization, some of it already underway, will be a 12-foot-wide paved LINK Trail that will start at the Ben Franklin Bridge, traverse 17 municipalities, and end 34 miles away in Winslow Township, serving as a “spine” for a wider trail network, said County Commissioner Jeff Nash, liaison to the parks.

The $10 million trail will connect “to the outstanding Philadelphia trail system” at one end, Nash said, and to the Atlantic County trail system at the other. So a bicyclist, for example, would be able to travel from Philly to Cape May Point using other existing trail connections. The trail has been planned since 2017 with public meetings and videos showing its path. A few miles already exist, but the rest needs to be built.

Nash, joined by several mayors and other officials, said the improvements would be paid for from existing funds, or county, state, and federal grants. Officials also expect funding from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, and private donors.

No county tax increase is required for the improvements, which are expected to be finished by 2025, he said.

Densely populated Camden County has 24 parks and conservation areas totaling 4,000 acres. Under the plan, all parks will be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They’ll get “interactive mapping,” new signs, and other improvements. Crews will plant more than 5,000 trees.

Depending on the location, parks will get new picnic tables, better parking lots, nicer trails, renovated sports fields, and lighting for security. The plan calls for the creation of local nonprofit conservancies that would be run by communities, giving them oversight of the parks.

About $25 million is already committed to a large project underway since 2020 at Newton Lake Park. The project entails dredging, stream-bank restoration, storm-water management, and the planting of 750 trees at the park, which runs through Collingswood, Oaklyn, and Haddon Township.

If the county’s park system has a crown jewel, it’s the Cooper River Park, where officials made the announcement. The plan directs $7 million in improvements to the park, built by the Works Progress Administration starting in the 1920s.

Cooper River Park is bordered by Camden, Pennsauken, Collingswood, Haddon Township, and Cherry Hill. It also connects through unbroken paths or minor road crossings to the Maria Barnaby Greenwald and Challenge Grove county parks in Cherry Hill, and Pennypacker Park and Hopkins Pond in Haddonfield.

The river has become a rowing regatta mecca as one of the longest unbroken straight river courses in the country and brings in an estimated $10 million to the local economy annually.

The widely used Jack Curtis stadium track and field site has already been torn out, to be replaced by new seating and a modern track surface. The county is installing a Victims of Terrorism Memorial, renovating gazebo and picnic areas, and improving parking lots.

Cooper River Park also will be connected through a water trail, with portages and boat launches, running through to the Delaware River.

And designs are underway for pedestrians to be able to cross over heavily traveled Route 130 to Gateway Park in Camden.

“A primary focus of this plan is to enhance the parks in Camden City,” Nash said. “Camden City for many years had its parks dilapidated, some of the worst parks in the county of Camden. This plan will take some of those parks and make them some of the best parks so that the children of Camden and the families of Camden will have the same opportunities as they do in Cherry Hill or Haddonfield or some of the other great communities.”

Indeed, Gateway Park in Camden along the Admiral Wilson Boulevard is listed for $4.6 million in improvements, including a water trail and kayak/canoe dock. Wiggins Park on the waterfront is listed to get $5.6 million for improvements including new marina docks.

Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen said that as he grew up in Camden, going to parks “was like a little vacation for me and my family.” Enhancing the parks, he said, is equivalent to “investing in people ... empowering our kids and families to feel good in our respective communities.”

Late last year, the city got a new park that’s built on a former landfill in the Cramer Hill neighborhood and rises 55 feet to overlook the Delaware River and Petty’s Island.

» READ MORE: A former city dump is about to become a ‘crown jewel’ waterfront park in Camden

One of the challenges facing the county: Much of the park system was built during the 1930s, as evidenced by the stone staircases and bridges that mark some locations. So the county wants to focus attention on those areas, as well as aging paved paths, piers, bulkheads, and buildings.

Pennsauken Mayor Jessica Rafeh said the parks took on new importance during the pandemic.

“One of the things COVID taught us is how important our open spaces are,” Rafeh said, noting that has continued. “It is so important that we get our kids off their screens and into the outdoors.”