Powwow, Opioids, Dunes, PierAC Update – Friday’s Roundup

Since we wrote about how there was nothing going on at Bart Blatstein’s pier at the far end of the boardwalk, closer to Showboat, a website for the pier has been launched. It says it’s “Atlantic City’s newest destination for social gatherings, special events and water activities.”

48 Blocks, Early Retirement Bill – Thursday’s Roundup

Atlantic City is 48 blocks long and on Saturday its streets will be covered with art, as the AC Arts Foundation joins forces with Stockton University to bring a new festival to town. There will be live music, ballet, free yoga, performance art, poetry on a jitney and an AC memory-sharing project (among other things).

Fresh Food Biz, Hard Rock – Wednesday’s Roundup

If you wanted to get a box of South Jersey farm-fresh fruit and veg but weren’t quite sure you could eat enough to justify a regular CSA subscription, a Hammonton local has another option for you. Anne Pape, whose family owns Pleasantdale Farms, has launched a service called Farm Fresh Fix, which packages up fruit and vegetables from local farms into boxes and sells them online and at pickup locations (currently at the Atlantic Cape Community College campus in Atlantic City and Mays Landing).

Hard Rock & Harrah’s Want Money – Tuesday’s Roundup

The Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority will consider projects from Harrah’s and the not-yet-rebuilt Hard Rock Casino at a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Could the Harrah’s project, dubbed “Harrah’s Atlantic City Project” be tied to the mysterious announcement made at the start of the month by Governor Chris Christie and executives from MGM (which operates the Borgata) and Harrah’s owner, Caesar’s Entertainment?

Bike Absecon, Recount, Buzby’s – Monday’s Roundup

Bike Absecon
Cycling to and from Margate and Atlantic City could get easier in the near future, after several different grants were made to bike-related projects on the island. Ventnor and Margate have been awarded $275,000 from the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization to install 50 bike racks across the two towns. Atlantic County has issued a request for proposals for professional services related to the project on Friday and the document contemplates installing racks on public property. Under the current proposal, that would add racks to all beach blocks in Margate as well as sporadic locations throughout the city, and racks in Ventnor would be clustered around City Hall, the recreational fields and three different business districts. The racks could be installed within four to six months.

Atlantic City Women, Underground Railroad – Friday’s Roundup

Read this great piece by the Inquirer’s Amy Rosenberg on the women-led effort to force a referendum if the state tries to sell or lease Atlantic City’s water authority. We’ve written about this before and it might seem like just an Atlantic City issue, but as more municipalities in South Jersey (remember Buena?) struggle to pay their bills, more public assets are going to be put up for sale and more public services will be cut. And taxpayers should be able to have a say in that process.

Looking At The Casinos, Stockton – Thursday’s Roundup

One casino-industry figure that is not immediately obvious in all the press releases, but which surfaced in the city’s debt issuance last month, is casino employment. Employment across all the casinos fell 7 percent last year to 22,000 people (10 years ago, the casinos employed just over 40,000). Last year, the Taj Mahal’s closure contributed to job losses. But even in May this year (admittedly still the ‘off’ season), there were 61 fewer casino jobs in Atlantic City than there were in December. So that rising gaming revenue does not yet seem to be translating into jobs.

Schools, Straub – Wednesday’s Roundup

The Asbury Park Press takes a look at what percentage of your property tax bill goes to schools. In Atlantic County, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that school-less (and close to child-less) Longport has the lowest percent of its property tax bill going to schools. Atlantic County in general is not as bad as you might think. You might be more surprised by Cape May County districts though. Upper Township schools eat up about 75 percent of the municipality’s property tax bill.

Pinelands Pipes II, Small Recount – Tuesday’s Roundup

Just in case you were thinking that all the furore around the Pinelands pipeline proposed by South Jersey Gas (and others), would put anyone else off of proposing a large pipeline through the Pinelands, think again. The Pinelands Commission could vote this summer on a new proposal by New Jersey Natural Gas dubbed the “Southern Reliability Link”. The Asbury Park Press has the details.

Blatstein’s PierAC, Norcross & CRDA, Opioid Antidote – Monday’s Roundup

In another revealing look at how the state uses casino taxes (and debt financing backed by those taxes), Amy Rosenberg reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer on an insurance contract that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority awarded to George Norcross’ Conner Strong & Buckelew, in spite of paperwork irregularities. CRDA, which has seen a chunk of its funding diverted to shore up Atlantic City’s budget, supported its selection of the Norcross firm. For more, read our reporting on CRDA’s decision to award thousands in back pay to board members, the Authority’s pay raises to a third of its staff after it cut more than a dozen jobs, and the impending state audit that has taken longer-than-expected.

PierAC – Probably Not Coming in July

There’s a sign on the locked gate of Garden Pier at the far end of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. It reads “PierAC – coming July 2017”. The pier’s landscaping is unkempt. Nothing seems to be going on in the way of development.
Property records show Bart Blatstein borrowed millions of dollars backed by his Atlantic City properties at the start of last year. The developer’s purchases since then have not been costly, which would suggest he has money to spend on building and renovation. But Blatstein has been keeping quiet about his plans.

Double Dutch

There were more than a hundred people gathered in Brown Park on Saturday for a double dutch competition. While kids swarmed the park’s brand-new play equipment, their parents gathered around swishing jump ropes. More than the official ribbon-cutting two weeks ago, this event marked the rebirth of a park that had become synonymous with so many of Atlantic City’s problems.