Controlled Burns With wet weather forecast for the second half of the week, South Jersey forestry teams have stepped up prescribed burn efforts to clear the dead twigs and brush that feed wildfires, NJ 101.5 reports. There’s a chance you might smell the burns today, even though they are not in Atlantic County. Meanwhile, Wednesday is set to bring record temperatures AND thunderstorms.
Cherry Hill JCC Threat The Katz JCC in Cherry Hill received a telephoned bomb threat yesterday, amid a wave of threats made to Jewish Community Centers around the country. The threats were unfounded, reported Philly.com. The Margate Katz JCC through Monday had not received any threat.
RUMP v TRUMP A Philadelphia recycler says it bought two iconic “TRUMP” signs removed from the Taj Mahal in February for $250, and is suing for at least $100,000 after the seller claimed the sale was invalid. The recycling company is called Recycling of Urban Materials for Profit (or RUMP, as a surprisingly small number of outlets seem to have noticed). Read The Press of Atlantic City piece here. Manco & Manco Lynda Cohen at BreakingAC has the details on the sentencing (late on Friday) of the owners of Manco & Manco’s Pizza for tax evasion and making false statements to IRS agents (respectively. Charles Bangle, 57, of Somers Point, was sentenced to 15 months for evading taxes and failing to report more than a quarter-million dollars in taxable income.
AC’s Cockamanie Convention Biz We took a magnifying glass to the state’s assertion that last year was Atlantic City’s best year for conferences, tradeshows and meetings. It was, but there’s a big but. It turns out that when a state agency pays casinos to build fancy new conference centers, businesses start holding their events there, instead of at the Atlantic City Convention Center, which is run by the same state agency (CRDA). Of course, bringing a million people into the city last year was no mean feat and Meet AC deserves credit – but the luxury taxes paid by those visitors are right now being used to fund a $2 million bathroom refit at Boardwalk Hall. In a city where almost 40 percent live in poverty.
Good news: Atlantic City attracted more visitors last year! Bad news: They mostly weren’t going to Boardwalk Hall or the Atlantic City Convention Center. Worse news: They mostly went to casinos in the Marina District! Where they’re isolated from the city! Atlantic City, which is struggling to pay its bills after five casinos closed since 2014, was taken over by the state at the end of last year.
The Messl If you’ve never had a messl, you’re missing out. We sat down yesterday at Essl’s Dugout (home of the messl breakfast sandwich) to chat with McKinnon Erario about his Instagram project to #SaveMomandPop by drawing attention through his amazing photography to some of South Jersey’s fantastic family-owned eating spots. Check out the story here on Route 40 and if you’ve got a good suggestion of where the project should go next, get in touch with McKinnon via Instagram. False Immigration Raid Report Lynda Cohen at BreakingAC has made ‘confirm, then report’ her motto. There was a local example yesterday of why that motto matters more than ever, when Pleasantville’s mayor spent most of the day battling a bad rumor fueled by a Facebook post that fed off the recently heightened worries of immigrants.
McKinnon Erario takes amazing pictures (here and here). A lot of them are of cars, the Pinelands and abandoned buildings. But a couple of weeks ago he started something different, using the hashtag #SaveMomandPop on a picture of Nixon’s General Store. Since then, he’s visited a few more independent food spots. The mission?
Expensive Bathrooms New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, charged with the upkeep of some of Atlantic City’s most important public buildings and spaces, yesterday approved spending up to $2 million on two sets of bathrooms in Boardwalk Hall. That might sound like a lot, but – the Authority was told – the bathrooms have been out of order for decades and major plumbing work is needed. Plus, SOSH Architects did a 500-page report with details of all the beautiful fittings, so at least some of the high costs are transparent. But there’s another reason why it costs multiple police-and-fire-salaries to refit a bathroom in a city that is struggling to meet its debt payments and where the same state that approves of $2 million bathroom upgrades is trying to cut public safety jobs. Because Boardwalk Hall is run by the state, it has to pay prevailing wages to trades for any work done, which increases the cost.
Pinelands Pipeline The Pinelands Commission could vote on Friday to approve the controversial gas pipeline through the pine barrens. Proponents of the pipeline, which will be built by a consortium including Atlantic County’s South Jersey Industries, say it will bring cheaper gas to the area, while opponents say its construction goes against the rules that protect the pinelands. The commission’s meeting is set for Friday at 9.30 am in Cherry Hill. Details here via Shore News Today. Bail Reform We are seven weeks into New Jersey’s bail reform, which did away with cash bail, and experts are divided on whether the program is working.
Stockton Coffee Stockton University has put out a call for proposals from “national and regional” coffee chains to open a coffee shop right on Atlantic City’s boardwalk in its future residential campus. The store must be ready to serve the 533 students who will take up residence in August 2018. Also, the store will have to contribute a portion of its revenue toward the Stockton site’s tax bill, so if it becomes a thriving business (and it’s hard not to see it being a winner) it is good news all-round for the city. Story from Route 40 here. Online Gaming If you’re interested in Atlantic City’s casino industry, NJ 101.5 has an interesting writeup on a recent research report that concludes that online gaming is actually helping draw more people into the real casinos in Atlantic City.
Stockton University is seeking a coffee shop to occupy a boardwalk-fronting retail space in its planned $100-million-dollar student-residence building in Atlantic City, according to a document published on Friday. The University’s request-for-qualifications (RFQ) is the most recent step in the realization of a total $200 million project that is set to bring massive change to the southern end of the city within a couple of years. Prospective tenants must be regional or national brands, with at least five years’ business experience, according to the document (here). The coffee shop will be permitted to sell food that requires ‘limited cooking’ – since the University will be looking for a restaurant operator to move into a larger retail space in the same building. The coffee shop is one of three total retail spaces in the residence building, which is set to become home to 533 students in August 2018.