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Camden County resident starts petition to preserve former Cherry Hill, New Jersey, racetrack building

More than 1,000 people sign petition to preserve historic building in South Jersey
More than 1,000 people sign petition to preserve historic building in South Jersey 02:09

CHERRY HILL, NJ (CBS) -- Sitting empty on a busy stretch of Route 70 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a small brick building that has stood the test of time represents what was once a booming and nationally known thoroughbred racetrack that opened in 1942. 

"This is all that's left of the racetrack, this little gatehouse," Dan Cirucci, a lifelong Camden County resident, said. 

The building is known as the Garden State Gatehouse, and Cirucci is fighting to save it. He started a petition, which now has more than 1,300 signatures.

"It's not only a remembrance of what was here, but it also would be a beautiful welcome to Cherry Hill," Cirucci said.

Tens of thousands of people entered through the now-rusted gates in the 1950s and 60s when the Garden State Park Racetrack was the center of entertainment in Camden County. The Garden ran its last race in 2001, and now many big box stores and restaurants sit in its place.

"The Gatehouse is a clear part of Cherry Hill's history and we need to do everything we can to make sure it stays that way," said Mayor David Fleisher, who shares Cirucci's passion.

The land next to the Gatehouse is up for sale with several interested buyers, but the mayor says the township is making it clear that tearing down the Gatehouse is not negotiable.

"Our community development team has been crystal clear with any potential visitor of the property that the Gatehouse needs to be protected, and I'm committed to making sure that happens," Fleisher said.

The mayor says the property is still in the exploratory phase, and Cirucci would like the last piece of the iconic track preserved and revitalized.

"If we lose this, there is no memory — every memory of it is erased," Cirucci said.

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