As part of Voting Block, a collaborative reporting project on the governor’s race involving 25 news organizations and dozens of neighbors, we want to know what your priorities are for the next governor. We’re creating a “people’s agenda” to send whoever wins the election on Nov. 7. And we need your help to build it. Tell us what you want the next governor to focus on during the first 100 days in office.
The first thing the next governor of New Jersey should do is get out of Atlantic City, a group of city residents agreed at a recent dinner in Bungalow Park. The almost one-year-old takeover of the city, which came after years of state oversight failed to avert a fiscal crisis in the gambling resort, is deeply unpopular with residents. Not one of the 13 guests at our Voting Block gathering at the Back Bay Ale House thought the state should continue its oversight. Neighbors from Bungalow Park, a bayfront enclave of homeowners that has withstood Superstorm Sandy and AtlanticheCity’s many cycles of urban renewal and urban neglect, fear rising property taxes are threatening their community. And with the state in charge of the city government, they have even less of a platform from which to raise that issue – and others – than ever before.
New Jersey needs a leader in its next governor, someone who can help influence national politics and change rhetoric around major issues facing the state, agreed a group of Atlantic County residents last week.
Colin Bell, the candidate for the Second Legislative District in the New Jersey State Senate, stood by himself on the stage last night at what was supposed to be a debate at Dante Hall in Atlantic City, after his opponent, Chris Brown, cancelled yesterday morning.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is preparing to sell off some of its Atlantic City real estate holdings, according to documents filed on its website.
“The CRDA seeks an experienced professional firm to market and auction surplus real property owned by the Authority and no longer necessary for its operations,” says the request for proposal. The real estate to be auctioned off ranges from a half-block package in the Inlet with a valuation of $6 million, to a $300 non-buildable alley on North Massachusetts Ave.
School enrollment across New Jersey has recovered from lows reached after the recession, but in parts of South Jersey including Atlantic County, enrollment is still falling. Enrollment in Atlantic County dipped to a new low of 43,515 in the last school year, with small districts such as Margate and Ventnor as well as larger districts including Buena Regional leading the declines. The area more broadly has been experiencing a population decline – but the school enrollment numbers show that it is not just older people and childless millennials who are moving away. Families are moving too. In districts such as Margate and Ventnor the decline in school enrollment has been compounded as the communities become dominated by second-home owners.
More than half of New Jersey’s school districts have shrunk in the last six years, reflecting wider population moves toward urban areas as well as net migration from the state. School districts are shrinking at a rapid rate in the Northwest of the state, as well as in Southern shore communities such as Avalon, Margate and Ventnor.
A push to renew talks about combining Atlantic City’s water authority with the Atlantic County Utilities Authority has worried community organizers who just two days ago won a commitment from the city council to hold a public vote on any plans to sell or lease the city’s water.