BLINQ A quaint bit of Camden County history is . . . history.
The long-closed clubhouse overlooking Evans Pond and the Cooper River in Cherry Hill was torn down this month after the county and the township concluded it had been damaged beyond repair by winter weather - and had become dangerous.
Calling the move unnecessary and shortsighted, Cherry Hill activists Kevin Cook and Bob Shinn also questioned the county's decision to block their effort to have the state designate much of Cooper River Park as a historic district.
"I'm concerned about the integrity of the park, the stairways, the stone walls, the Hopkins House," says Cook, whose efforts I wrote about in a column last April. "Without the protections of a historic district, they're all living on borrowed time. The county's answer is demolition."
"I know that Kevin was upset, but we delayed demolition of the building for almost a year at his request," county Freeholder Jeff Nash says. Absent community support, and money, to renovate the fire-damaged structure, he adds, "there was no reason to save it."
Nash says the historic-district application was technically flawed, and that a "sweeping" designation could impede implementation of a $23 million plan to revitalize Cooper River Park. "If there are historical buildings that need to be preserved," he adds, "I am very much in favor of that."
Says Shinn, "The value of the clubhouse, besides the setting, was that it was the first building the Camden County Park Commission built, in 1928, in the very first park the commission built. And now it's lost. It's gone."
'Louder than a bomb,' indeed
BLINQ To the pantheon of Camden poets - a group that already includes Walt Whitman and Nick Virgilio - add Zaniah, Jazmine, and Lesley.
The three were among the 80 poets sharing their work in the city's first spoken-word competition (aka "slam") inspired by Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB), which originated in Chicago in 2001. The March 22 event was hosted at the Rutgers-Camden campus center by poet Michael Haeflinger, a part-time lecturer in the Department of English.
"The poetry world is alive and well among Camden's youth," he says. "We heard poems that dealt with their perceptions of place and of themselves, as well as how they feel the world perceives them."
The poet Steve Burns, who is studying in the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden, wrote about the event for Apiary magazine. He was impressed by what he heard.
"Some of their lines were so powerful," says Burns. "These kids are in middle school and high school and have experienced so much in so little time - but they're able to turn it into poetry so stunningly well."
yKevin Riordan, www.inquirer.com/blinq