(Cherry Hill, N.J.) – Mayor Chuck Cahn and Township Council on Wednesday announced that they intend to join in the upcoming auction of the Woodcrest Country Club, and ultimately preserve the property as open space.
See below for the full text of the Mayor’s remarks:
“The Woodcrest Country Club has been in the headlines several times in the last few weeks, and I have heard many questions and rumors about the property – and, unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation, as well.
It’s time to set the record straight.
Woodcrest Country Club is an important piece of property in this Township. Situated on about 150 acres, it is one of the largest remaining parcels of open space in Cherry Hill. What happens to this site is important to all of us – and it’s something I have thought about at great length over the last few weeks.
This afternoon, Council President Fleisher and I sent a letter to residents in Woodcrest and adjacent neighborhoods, reiterating our priorities and our vision for the future of the Country Club property.
Excerpts from the letter read as follows:
As you may know, the Woodcrest Country Club filed for bankruptcy protection on May 9, 2012. As part of the bankruptcy, a court-appointed trustee has been authorized to oversee a sale of the property. We expect the sale to be completed within the next two months.
First and foremost, we believe that the property should not be developed; it should remain as a golf course, or be preserved as open space that can be enjoyed by our entire community now and for generations to come.
The Woodcrest Country Club is one of the most beautiful pieces of land in the Township. It is located within the Camden County greenway system, a blueprint to connect recreational areas across the county through a system of bike paths and multi-use trails, and is just a stone’s throw from the historic Stafford Farm, which was preserved a decade ago through a partnership between the County, Voorhees Township, and the state’s Green Acres program.
While the property owner is under no obligation to just “hand over” the property for public use, the Township and the County can, within the limits of the law, participate in the upcoming auction.
That is what we propose to do.
Accordingly, we, as Mayor and Council, are calling on the Camden County Board of Freeholders to utilize the County’s Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund – and any other available sources of funding – to assist the Township in the eventual purchase of Woodcrest Country Club. This is a complicated process, but it is one that we believe is worthy of the time, money and effort involved.
The clock is ticking, however, and the process needs to begin immediately. We have already reached out to the Freeholders, and requested their support and assistance in trying to purchase and preserve this property.
Our hope is that, over the next few weeks, they will be able to help us move forward.
Should the Township and County eventually be outbid by a third party, we want to make it very clear that we do not and will not support any change in zoning from the property’s current institutional designation.
We hope this discussion will never be necessary – as we are now focused on preserving this property for the benefit and enjoyment of our residents today, and for generations to come.
We want to stress that this is not just about a golf course. The Mayor and Council are committed to protecting our neighborhoods, and to preserving one of the largest parcels of open space in our community.
We stand united in this cause, and we are watching very closely as the situation progresses.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us through the Mayor’s Office. Our door is always open.
What happens to the Woodcrest Country Club property is something that we, as elected officials and as residents of Cherry Hill, are watching very closely.
We all have a stake in this, and if there is something we as a Township can do to make sure this land is preserved and protected in perpetuity, we will explore every option.”
You can read the full letter here.
Residents with questions or concerns about the Township’s interest in the Country Club are encouraged to call the Mayor’s Office directly at (856) 488-7878, or by e-mail at MayorCahn@chtownship.com.