Does it sometimes feel like a lot of people around you are packing up and leaving? If you’re in Atlantic County, you might have noticed a trend. The county lost more than 3,700 people in the last two years, more than 5 a day*, according to the latest estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. The estimates show that the pace of population shrinkage in the county has increased, too.
Atlantic City’s Ducktown Arts District has a new fuchsia warehouse, courtesy of Jimmy DiNatale, its colorful owner, who is in the process of suing everyone’s favorite state agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, over what he says is CRDA’s failure to disclose environmental contamination on the site, where he’d planned to open a Hooters and a sports bar.
Atlantic County has seen more than 3,700 people leave in the last two years, according to new county-level population estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau today. People started leaving Atlantic County in 2014, when four casinos closed, but the rate of departures increased in 2015 and 2016. We mapped how the county compares to other South Jersey counties here. Interestingly, Gloucester County is the only one in the region with a population that has grown since 2010, while in Salem and Cape May counties the death rate is outstripping the birth rate.
The Lead Goose
Apparently Wawa has an employee known as the lead goose (aka CEO) and he’s an alumnus of St. Augustine Prep. Vineland native Chris Gheysens went back to his alma mater to spread the word of the goose and The Press has this story on his talk. There are some details in the piece that are kind of telling on the state of retail in the 21st Century: Wawa KNOWS you spend an average of 3 minutes and 46 seconds in its stores. They are on a MISSION to REDUCE that TIME. It will be interesting to see what happens when competition to Wawa moves in, since the Royal Farms chain that is also expanding in South Jersey offers seating.
An Atlantic City resident, seeing two teenagers fighting in the street while their friends watched, laughed and filmed, decided to interrupt. The video of the fight that turned into two teens shaking hands has now gone viral, Lynda Cohen of Breaking AC reports. The man – identified by friends as Ibn Ali – points out that the fighters’ friends are laughing at them and says they should think of their parents. Then he says, “You all don’t shake hands, I’m not leaving.” And the magic happens. You can watch the video here.
A Hot-Pink Middle Finger
We wrote on Friday about an Atlantic City building that at various points was going to be a Sbarro or a Chili’s or a Crackerbarrel or a Hooter’s and a sports bar and is now a boarded-up hot-pink middle finger to Atlantic City’s de facto planning agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. And it is the subject of a lawsuit. If that doesn’t make you want to weep or laugh (in a sad kind of way), consider that the building in question was once the Patsy Wallace building, from which local residents obtained non-perishables as recently as Superstorm Sandy. In case you missed it, we also looked at local after-school programs that are on the block as a result of planned federal education spending cuts. Fentanyl
More than 30 pounds of one of the world’s most deadly opioids, Fentantyl, was recovered from several raids by law enforcement – in South Jersey, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
About 450 children and 27o adults and parents could lose access to federally-funded after-school services provided in Buena, Atlantic City and Pleasantville school districts. The services, offered under the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, are among those that would be affected by President Trump’s proposal to end $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs.
There are three sites in Atlantic County that offer the program, which also provides after-school care for individuals with disabilities. This is a roundup of the local 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, according to details from New Jersey’s Department of Education:
Public Safety Rally
There will be a rally today at noon in the Atlantic City Hall lobby, to highlight the impact the state’s cuts are having on the city’s police and fire department and how, with peak tourism season around the corner, the new status quo is rather bleak. Christian Hetrick of The Press of Atlantic City reported yesterday that the state has dialed back – a tad – from its police pay-cut project (which went into effect Wednesday) to make a special exception for AC Police Officer Josh Vadell who was shot in the head last year. The police department, unsurprisingly, was unimpressed: On Twitter, PBA Local 24 criticized the state’s statement, Hetrick wrote. “Oh ok so each officer that gets shot going forward will we just have to sue to get this same ‘determination.’ Thanks,” the tweet said. Monopoly Board Properties
NJ.Com has revisited an old favorite activity in these parts, with a piece looking at Here’s What Property on the Monopoly Streets of Atlantic City Sells for Today.
Meet the New Prosecutor
Atlantic County’s new prosecutor, Damon Tyner, was sworn in on Wednesday and Lynda Cohen of Breaking AC was there to hear what he had to say. Violence, drugs and human trafficking are his top priorities, Cohen reports. Tyner is an Atlantic City native and talked about his mission in the context of the community. “I think the opiate problem has more of an impact on the community than the common citizen realizes,” Tyner said. “I’ve seen the drug problem just destroy families, destroy people.” Cohen also has video from the ceremony on her site, at the link above.
Lawyers Win AC Takeover
Many people predicted this, but with news yesterday that Atlantic County will follow the Atlantic City Fire Department in taking the state of New Jersey to court over the constitutionality of the state’s AC takeover, it really feels like the only winners now are the lawyers. Taxpayers, who will be footing the bill doubly for the state’s lawyers and the county’s lawyers, are the losers in this equation. We’ll be watching closely to see what burden this places on local budgets – get in touch with us via social media (links above) or email if you have thoughts or comments. AC Police Get Pay Cuts
Would it be too much to hope for a state takeover team that at least had some class? Their complete lack of it was on display yesterday, when it became apparent that – in the middle of a state of emergency – they imposed pay and incentive cuts across the Atlantic City Police Department.
How is it where you are? We are watching trash floating down the street in Ventnor. The rain has eased in the last hour, but the storm warning is in effect through 1 pm today. If you want to keep up with the latest, The Press of Atlantic City has a rolling weather service on its page here. AC Public Safety Campaign
“Don’t Gamble On Safety” is the message of a publicity campaign supporting Atlantic City’s public safety workers, who are facing the threat of significant cuts to their contracts under the state takeover.
Atlantic County’s Zombie Homes
There are more than 4,600 foreclosed and vacant homes in Atlantic County, also known as “zombie” homes. We put together an interactive map so you can drill down and see what your corner of the county looks like. Atlantic City has had a lot of attention for its foreclosure crisis but actually the foreclosure rate at the start of the year in Galloway and Egg Harbor Township was twice that of AC. The full story, with the map, is here. Snow
No one seems to be at all sure quite how much snow we could see overnight and into tomorrow, but it is going to be very wet and windy starting from this evening as the Nor’easter rolls in.
Tourism in Atlantic County increased last year for the first time in five years, The Press of Atlantic City reports, citing state data that attributed the rise to good weather, lower gas prices and a pickup in casino gaming revenue. “Although we feel like we’ve never recovered from the recession down here, most of the people that come here are coming from areas that are doing much, much better than we are,” Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College, told The Press. The cloud? Well, you can read the report for yourself here, but although tourism sales might have bottomed out in 2015 in Atlantic County, direct tourism sales in 2016 were still below 2014 levels. Food Waste
NJ Spotlight has a neat look at food waste in New Jersey and what can be done about it in a state where there are also a lot of hungry people.
We all know the problems. To date, I can count on one hand how many locals agree the $2 million being spent on the renovation of unused bathrooms in Boardwalk Hall is a good idea, or at the least, where we should start. I can also count on one hand how many local people like the CRDA. I had the opportunity in January to meet with Chris Howard, the new Executive Director of the CRDA. I found a bright man hoping to bring change. The idea behind the CRDA remains noble.
New Jersey is looking at regulating and taxing the ‘home-sharing industry’, which is dominated by AirBnB, and matters in a lot of ways to South Jersey, where both formal and informal hospitality is still a huge industry. The Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee has recommended two bills to the legislature – you can read more about it here, via the New Jersey Law Journal. Pinelands Pipeline Problems
One of the companies behind the project to build a controversial gas pipeline through the Pinelands in South Jersey is considering selling its stake, NJ Spotlight reports. The company – Newark-based PSEG Power – says it wants to focus on its core business. It’s not clear what ramifications (if any) this could have for the pipeline project, which was recently approved by the Pinelands Commission.
Damon Germano and Gabrielle Cianfrani just wanted to make a better cup of coffee. Somewhere along the line, their personal mission turned into a business. Now, from a corner of Pleasantville not far from the old Ireland Coffee Company plant, Boardwalk Beans is roasting small batches of carefully-selected coffee for retail and wholesale customers.