Atlantic Club It was a fun day dream while it lasted but it turned out that – for the second time – there was no real money behind the latest plan to turn the shuttered Atlantic Club into a water park, reported Nick Huba for The Press of Atlantic City. The property’s owners are still hopeful they can find a buyer… AC Music Video Atlantic City’s fight-stopping hero, Ibn Ali, is hoping to use his viral-video fame to spread more positivity around the city. Yesterday, he filmed a music video at Stanley Holmes Village – Lynda Cohen has the story at BreakingAC.Com. Reefs The state Department of Environmental Protection, with sign off from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is going to build two reefs to help anglers in South Jersey.
Shrinking Jail Population The number of people in jail in New Jersey is down 20 percent since the start of Gov. Christie’s administration and the costs of running the prison system have dipped below $1 billion, lawmakers heard yesterday. But amid continued discussion over the effectiveness of bail reform in New Jersey, which has done away with financial bail in most cases, it is not clear whether municipalities are now bearing more costs in cases where people fail to appear for court hearings and police have to track them down. An Atlantic County spokeswoman told us last month that the county jail had approximately 60 fewer inmates at the end of February compared to the end of December (before bail reform, initially designed to help more people avoid prison, went into effect) but there is no good data on how the reform has affected municipalities. NJ Immigration Arrests of undocumented immigrants are up 20 percent since October, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Newark told NJTV News in this interview. The TV station also has this piece on a Rutgers student and immigration rights activist who came to the United States with her parents when she was four and recently learned that renewal of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status was held up. Healthcare South Jersey’s Tom MacArthur, U.S. representative for New Jersey’s third congressional district, is reviving efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and he’s getting heat for it from other Republicans, although he has the support of the Freedom Caucus.
Icahn Strikes Again If you were the owner of an enormous, empty casino in a struggling resort town filled with other large, vacant properties (including another one owned by you), and a buyer – wafted in on the wind of political change – comes along, you’d take them up on that offer, right? Probably a lot of people would dust their hands off at that point and leave, but if you’re Carl Icahn, you get down to business trying to wring every last drop out of that property that you no longer own. The Press of Atlantic City’s Christian Hetrick has this great piece looking at the Taj’s tax appeals against the city. The state’s Department of Community Affairs, now in charge of AC’s finances, says it is in negotiations. The purchase price of the Taj was not disclosed, which in finance land means it was not significant, or under $100 million.
Teachers Margate, Ocean City, Brigantine and Atlantic City schools have some of the highest-paid teachers in the state, according to state Department of Education data written up by Diane D’Amico at The Press of Atlantic City. The data ranks districts by median salary. Margate and Brigantine said the data reflects the longevity of their staff but D’Amico notes that higher starting salaries also contribute to higher median salaries in these districts. Monopoly Atlas Obscura has this amazing piece that tells the history of the Monopoly board game and the buildings and streets in Atlantic City that inspired it – it’s a trip back in time, complete with great pictures. Part-Time Mayors The Press has a piece about how the Atlantic County Economic Alliance is helping out part-time mayors, but I think (this is Elinor) when you read it, it’s a little bit more interesting than that.
County Taxes County Executive Dennis Levinson explains his position in an opinion piece on the county-versus-city fight over the Atlantic City casinos’ PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) money. The state offered the county 10.4 percent of the casinos’ PILOT, but Levinson and Mayor Guardian had an agreement it would be 13.5 percent. The difference is $40 million that would have to be made up by county taxpayers. Levinson said that while the success of a court fight against the state is uncertain, “We’ll try anyway. Even if we lose, the depositions should be very interesting.”
The Rodeway Inn along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township could be revived as garden apartments and townhouses, according to a developer’s plan that will go before EHT’s planning board on Monday. Eastern Pacific Development is seeking preliminary site plan approval for an affordable housing project that would turn the existing 77-unit motel into one-and two-bedroom garden apartments. Nine additional townhouses with two- and three- bedroom units would also be built, according to the planning board agenda. The developer is also proposing to demolish an existing office building on the site and add a children’s play area and a community area. “There’s a significant need for affordable housing right now,” said Hans Alpert, chief executive of Eastern Pacific Development.
Dog & Pony Show Wayne Parry’s Associated Press piece does a nice job of contrasting the fanfare and showbusiness of Gov. Christie’s Atlantic City visit yesterday with the somewhat harsher realities of the state takeover that were presented at a follow-on press conference by the president of the NAACP and others. Meanwhile, the Press has a look at the possibility of a lawsuit over the PILOT payments the county was shorted on (and Christie’s response), and The Inquirer’s Amy Rosenberg writes about Christie’s – possibly – softening stance on selling the water authority. It was a busy day. Geek Amusement Park Bill Barlow, writing for Newsworks, got some more insight into developer Bart Blatstein’s plans for The Showboat, after he announced the launch of weekly mini-conventions dubbed the Atlantic City Fan Expo. It all hinges around professional sports gaming – but there will be some live music thrown in too, for fans of the former House of Blues.
Beach Trash New Jersey’s ocean and beach cleanup group Clean Ocean Action released its annual report and NJ.com runs down the list of things the group found on beaches last year: a toilet seat, a pink flamingo, decorated Christmas trees and so much more. The next round of beach sweeps organized by the group are this Saturday, from 9 am to 12.30 pm, and here is the list of beaches where a cleanup is being organized, plus details on how you can join in. Town Hall Your 12-term (yes) U.S. Representative Frank LoBiondo has opted to hold meetings with individual residents, groups and organizers, as well as taking questions on radio shows and (he says) replying to Tweets (@replobiondo), instead of appearing at a town hall. So yesterday a group calling itself Cooper River Indivisible held a town hall meeting to which LoBiondo was invited, but he didn’t show up. And they tweeted to him, but he didn’t reply. Amy Rosenberg has the story.
Atlantic City’s purchasing department on Wednesday awarded Egg Harbor City’s Command Company a contract to build out the chunk of a planned bike loop that will connect the beach to Gardner’s Basin via specially-adapted city streets in the inlet.
Atlantic City has published a request-for-proposals for a sculpture to go in the renovated Harold R. Brown Memorial Park along Dr Martin Luther King Blvd. The city is requesting proposals to design, supply and install a sculpture, according to the bid notice. Sealed proposals should be submitted before the purchasing division’s meeting on Tuesday May 9 at 11 am. Artists interested in submitting a proposal should contact the purchasing department for bid specifications. Brown’s park has been transformed this year, since Councilman Kaleem Shabazz and others launched a campaign to try and find funds to clean it up: