Skate Park, Pinelands Pipeline, Whistleblowers – Thursday’s Roundup

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Skate Park
There was a skate park in Atlantic City on Sovereign Avenue by the bay. It wasn’t built to code – any code – so someone decided to bring it down yesterday. Of course, personal injury claims are a liability for municipalities. But in Atlantic City’s history, claims brought by deep-pocketed casinos who don’t like their tax bills have been a much bigger liability. Also arguably, having vacant and abandoned skyscrapers littering a town, while the state is forcibly downsizing the same town’s emergency services, is another big liability. Skaters and kids don’t have the casinos’ well-compensated lobbyists and politicians in their corner, but they have the attention of the city now – so here’s hoping AC can finally get its long-planned-for skate park. Read our story.

Pinelands Pipeline
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance yesterday filed an appeal to challenge the development of a $1 billion gas pipeline through the pine barrens, NJ Spotlight reports. The pipeline’s proponents, including local backer South Jersey Industries, say the project will bring cheaper gas to the area and prevent the closure of the B.L. Engand power plant in Beesley’s Point, by allowing it to convert to natural gas. But residents and environmental groups have challenged those claims in packed public meetings. The project has been delayed six years by ongoing litigation.

State legislators are trying to make sure that future whistleblower cases will be settled transparently, several months after Gov. Chris Christie’s administration paid $1.5 million to settle a high-profile whistleblower case that kept documents confidential. NJ Spotlight has details on the legislators’ effort here. Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, a jury just awarded $40,000 to a police officer with a history of excessive force claims against him, after he filed a whistleblower claim against the city for reporting another officer’s use of excessive force, the Press of Atlantic City reports.

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In the rest of the news from the last 24 hours, Hammonton gets a dog park, there’s still no transparency over the AC takeover (thanks to more OPRA-digging by the Press’ Christian Hetrick), a federal lawsuit has been filed after an Atlantic County jail death, and  here’s a look back at South Jersey Little League baseball moments. All that and more below:

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