Hundreds of Atlantic City kids this year got their first ever taste of city-run summer camps. Now the city is looking to make sure it can replicate the experience next year as well as expand its recreation services to seniors and other underserved residents. Years of financial difficulties and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Atlantic City was unable to staff a recreation department. This spring, however, the city began hiring to build out its youth services, senior services and multicultural offices. Mayor Marty Small said this had been a passion of his and he had been determined since taking office to make more services available to both young people and senior citizens in Atlantic City.
Three new retail cannabis dispensaries and one 125,000-foot cannabis growing facility are seeking permission to open in Atlantic City. The dispensaries are looking to occupy existing buildings that were previously a soup kitchen, a check-cashing location and a video rental store, while the growing facility would be a newly-constructed building covering most of a city block. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the state body that oversees planning in Atlantic City’s tourism and business districts, will hold a public hearing on Sept. 15 to discuss the plans (an earlier hearing on Aug. 18 was postponed).
Hot food will once again be on offer on Pennsylvania Avenue. Sister Jean’s Soup Kitchen, which closed three years ago, now has city approval to reopen in a new location on the same street, but further away from the beach and tourism district. Sister Jean’s moved into St Monica’s Church at 108 N Pennsylvania and has been operating as a food pantry, a closet that provides used clothing and the home to a large community garden run by Communities Revolutionizing Open Public Spaces (C.R.O.P.S.). According to the organization’s website, building work is being done at the church in order to open the kitchen, and, “Take out meals will be an option soon.” People connected to the organization did not respond to further questions about the planned reopening date. Sister Jean’s original location on the corner of Pennsylvania and Pacific Avenues closed in February, 2019.
The Atlantic City Ballet canceled two shows in a row. An official at the ballet declined to comment about the cancellations when we sent an email. A performance of Carmen was canceled with two days’ notice last month and the March performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream was canceled the day of the performance. Although comments were disabled on the ballet’s Facebook page, some dancers expressed their frustration with the cancelations on social media, commenting that they were also informed at the last minute. The ballet company was formed by Phyllis Papa in 1982.
In the South Jersey suburbs, people are turning to gardening to relieve lockdown boredom and produce the fresh food that is in short supply in local stores. But what can you do in an impoverished city that is already classed as a food desert and that suffers from flooding, soil contamination and other gardening hazards?
On a recent afternoon, Friday before the Super Bowl, a group of workers at the Atlantic City Contact Center stood in a low-ceilinged office in a corner of The Claridge’s parking garage. The place smelled of onions and pasta salad.
Street flooding in Atlantic City has never been so bad, according to fire chief Scott Evans. Evans and others are working on a plan they hope will help the city tackle some flooding by raising houses, improving bulkheads and installing stormwater pumps. The “Atlantic City Floodplain Management Plan”, unveiled at a public meeting earlier this month, is designed to help city residents qualify for a bigger discount on flood insurance premiums.
You’d be hard pressed to say it was a thriving Main Street, but the barbershop, Mexican restaurant, pizza place, tobacco store, mini-mart and even the closed-looking gift store are all open on the short span of Atlantic City’s Ventnor Ave, between Harrisburg and Trenton. In an age of dying malls and online shopping, something is working here.
Laurie Egrie is walking down the hallway of Sovereign Avenue School carrying a cardboard box filled with odd little balls and popsicle sticks with notelets stuck to them, and she’s wedged an easel-sized writing pad under one arm. The corridor is half dark. School let out 15 minutes ago.