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Rams Moving Ahead with Athletic Complex; Camden Diocese Has Money to Spend



by Bill Cleary


RAMS FUTURE DOESN'T INCLUDE GLOUCESTER CITY-Gloucester Catholic High School is going ahead with its plans to build a new athletic campus on 75 acres in Deptford according to an article in the June 17 Philadelphia Inquirer. The Diocese owns the ground and is giving it to the school. 

  20110616_inq_jcath16-a broke the story in May. The same week the Camden Diocese announced it was closing St. Mary’s Grammar School because of financial problems the Rams were circulating a survey to alumni members asking their opinion on spending $4 million to build the athletic facility.  

A diocese official said what could come later to the location would have even greater impact: the first new Catholic high school in the Diocese of Camden in more than 45 years, and the first ever in Gloucester County.

The athletic campus, to be built in three phases over three to five years, is to include 11 fields, including a state-of-the-art stadium, and a clubhouse with locker rooms, restrooms, and a kitchen/concession area.

The site, traversed by Blackwood-Barnsboro Road and adjacent to Gloucester County College, is large enough to accommodate a high school.

An artist's rendering ( sketch above) of the facility includes an open space - the possible home of a new Gloucester Catholic, according to school and diocese officials.

 Principal John Colman said the athletic campus would enable Gloucester Catholic to "get a footprint" in Gloucester County that could lead to more serious consideration of a Catholic high school in one of the state's fastest-growing areas.

The athletic-field project needs final approval from the Deptford planning board, which will meet July 6. But Mayor Paul Medany said township officials supported the plan.

The project is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, though school officials hope to keep costs down through donated materials and services from parents and alumni.

The "best-case scenario" has the school beginning the first phase - two practice football fields and three fields for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey - in late August with a goal toward using the facilities in fall 2012, said a school official.

Phase two would include the baseball and softball fields and the clubhouse.

Phase three would be the stadium, which could cost between $1.5 million and $2 million, Colman said.

WHO SAID WE WERE BROKE? The Camden Diocese must own quite a bit of land in Gloucester County. Last month the Harrison Township Committee finalized a redevelopment zone paving the way for an agreement with the Diocese to construct a Catholic Charities retirement home on the Colson Lane property.

 Although the Diocese of Camden has been closing parishes and schools throughout the area a ground breaking ceremony was held in April in Sea Isle on the site for the construction of a $7 million church. The new 1300 seat capacity facility will be erected alongside the present church, St. Joseph's, on Landis Ave., and the buildings will be connected. A Sea Isle City church fundraising committee is approaching $2.25 million in donations, the first benchmark for construction to begin. Once that money is raised the diocese would then offer a loan to help the parish reach its estimated $7 million goal, officials have said.

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