How Did Atlantic City’s Needle Exchange Open In A Business District?

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Atlantic City’s syringe exchange program has operated for more than a decade from a downtown office building just a few blocks from the city’s casinos. Back when the South Jersey Aids Alliance started offering clean needles from the Oasis Drop-in Center in 2007, the site was in the Central Business District.

We requested property records from the city and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which oversees planning in the district. The city’s most recent document for the property (posted below) shows it as having the present use “office building”. Neither CRDA or the city had any certificate of land use compliance on file for the property, at 32 S Tennessee Ave. It is not clear what that means. We asked CRDA’s Director of Planning and Development Lance Landgraf whether it could have been lost or whether it was never filed. “We have nothing in our files for that property,” he said, in an email.

The Atlantic City Tourism District did not exist and CRDA was not responsible for planning when the needle exchange began to operate at the end of 2007. (An executive order gave a green light to the program in 2004, but it was stayed by a court injunction until then state Sen. Bill Gormley brought new legislation to allow needle exchanges.) A Downtown Revitalization Plan that includes the needle exchange site was published in 2007 by organizations including Main Street Atlantic City and the Special Improvement District. It makes no mention of the South Jersey Aids Alliance or the Oasis Drop-in Center.

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