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TRENTON-The North Jersey-South Jersey schism lives. North Jersey has long treated the southern part of the state as poor cousins, while South Jerseyans have long charged that their brethren to the north get all of the breaks from Trenton. Indeed, back in the ’70s and ’80s there was even an active secessionist movement that would have had the South break off as a new state.

The rivalry has flared anew over the proposed arena in downtown Newark in North Jersey that would be the new home of the NBA Nets and NHL Devils (most people in South Jersey root for the 76ers and Flyers anyway). The main reason the enabling legislation to fund the new arena never got to the floor of the state assembly before the summer break was that assembly speaker Jack Collins (R-Salem County), from South Jersey, wouldn’t let it. The sticking point is that he wanted some of the largesse to fall on South Jersey (see earlier stories).

Now, according to a published report, legislation could hit the floor by early fall — with a $100 million bag of goodies targeting South Jersey added on for good measure. According to the report, negotiations over the past few weeks have brought all parties close to an agreement.

No one involved in the negotiations will comment yet, but according to the report, about half of that $100 million would go for some major road improvements in Cape May County, where traffic congestion has long been the result of the region’s attraction as a tourist destination. Another $20 million would reportedly go for a new convention and civic center in Pennsauken.

Also, another $20 million would be targeted for a new athletic complex at Rowan University in Glassboro, for use by both the university’s athletic teams and by high schools in the region. The remaining amount, estimated at about $10 million, would be distributed among a variety of building projects and programs, including initiatives at zoos located in Bridgeton and Cape May.

The final piece of the legislative puzzle for South Jersey, according to the report, would be the creation of a sports and entertainment district in the adjacent cities of Millville and Vineland. It would function much as the proposed district in Newark, which would generate tax proceeds to help pay for the arena. In the case of the Millville-Vineland district, funding would go for a variety of related projects, possibly including a minor league soccer franchise.

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