camden high school Camden City School District
Camden High School

Lawsuit seeks to save Camden, N.J., high school from demolition

Alumni and others contend that plans to raze and replace the 100-year-old school were made without their input.

Alumni and others seeking to save Camden High School in Camden, N.J., from demolition have filed a federal lawsuit to preserve the landmark.

The Cherry Hill Courier-Post reports that the suit asks a judge to block demolition of the school known as The Castle on the Hill.

The supporters of the school's preservation contend in the suit that htey have been excluded from the process of deciding the building's fate.

New Jersey's Schools Development Authority decided last year to allocate $132.6 million to build a new Camden High. The existing Camden High campus includes building parts that date to 1916.

The lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include Camden High's alumni association, says the existing school facility is "a point of cultural identity and pride for alumni, students, their parents, and the residents of the city of Camden." 

It also notes Camden High earlier this year was singled out by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office as "among the most architecturally distinguished early 20th-century school buildings in the state."

The supporters acknowledge that razing the school's annex, which includes the gym and interconnecting "pod buildings" at the rear of the complex, "will not have an adverse effect on the historic main high school building."

"If it is not financially feasible to retain the entire main building, it is recommended that as large a portion of it as possible be kept intact, with new construction behind it on the site," the suit says..

State officials have determined that a new building would be more cost-effective than renovating the existing structure. They have projected that a newly built school would open for students in 2021, according to the Camden district's web site.

Camden School Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard says building a new school is the best path forward because years of neglect have left much of the school beyond the point of repair.

Politicians "from North and South Jersey have neglected Camden and Camden High School, and the challenges we inherited are rooted in issues that were decades in the making," Rouhanifard says. "But, here we are. It makes more sense to look forward."

MORE. Video on plans for new high school from Camden City School District:

 

 

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