Let me first say New Jersey has been my home for the last 26 years, Atlantic County the last 19. I have no political experience or political ambitions. First and foremost, I am a mom, a mom very much interested in her community and making it as family-friendly and welcoming as possible.
That being said, there has been a lot of debate the last few months in Atlantic City and across New Jersey about Senate Bill Number 11. “The tourism act that provides for the establishment of the Atlantic City Tourism District and for the transfer of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, together with its functions, powers, and duties, to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. (CRDA)” Essentially, New Jersey is changing how it defines tourism in Atlantic City in a way they hope will benefit the city and state. Clearly the old way of marketing Atlantic City as an adult playground will not work.
Last week I attended a CRDA town hall meeting where the Tourism District was discussed in great detail. There has been great debate about where the boundaries should be from here to there or there to here… what other pockets of Atlantic City should be covered. I couldn’t even begin to summarize all the recommendations the residents had, nor am I really concerned with that. What I wanted to know and am still working to discover is how Atlantic City is going to promote its family friendly attractions to New Jersey and the surrounding areas and how it will go about being more family friendly. It was with that in mind that I went to the meeting, asked questions, and reviewed Senate Bill 11 (all 38 pages).
Here’s what I can tell you, the bill (which you can link to from above) and the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan (which does not seem to be available for public viewing yet) make way for the following:
- the creation of Atlantic City Tourism District Advisory C0mmission
consisting of members to be appointed by the CRDA. Such as:
- public officials of Atlantic City and Atlantic County
- representatives of the casino and tourism industries
- public citizens
- and any other individual or organization the authority deems appropriate
- the development of nongaming, family centered tourism related activities such as amusement parks
- the Atlantic City Convention and Visitor’s Authority, which previously handled the majority of Atlantic City tourism, will become a division of CRDA.
- the creation of a public-private marketing corporation who will be promoting the economic and general welfare of Atlantic City and the tourism district
- will consist of a majority of New Jersey casino licensees
- casinos will commit funds totaling $30 million annually
- (as of now, participation is not open to non-gaming properties)
That’s a lot of legal talk. Here’s what it comes down to.
Atlantic City DOES want to be seen as a family-friendly destination, but I don’t think it’s quite there. We are hopeful that in the months ahead, CRDA, the Advisory Commission, and this new marketing organization will look not just to its casinos but also to its community members and businesses when making decisions about how to make Atlantic City more family-friendly and how to share what is already family-friendly in Atlantic City and Atlantic County with the rest of New Jersey and the surrounding area.
Why within our boundaries we have the:
- Ocean Life Center
- Marinas & Boat Rides
- Absecon Lighthouse
- Jersey Shore Children’s Museum
- An indoor ice-skating rink
- Lucy the Elephant
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not
- Boardwalk Hall & Convention Center
- Beaches & Boardwalks
- Libraries & Parks
- Nature Centers
I am encouraged more by the plans to continue:
- installing lighting on the boardwalk so families can feel safe walking at night
- comfort stations (bathrooms) along the boardwalk will be maintained and new ones created
- demolishing buildings that have become eyesores from years of neglect
- bringing family-friendly attractions to our area like
- the Atlantic City Air Show which this year will feature a parade
- last weekend’s Rodeo, which plans to become an annual tradition
And I am EXCITED to be partnering with Karen Hudson Sweitzer, from A Magical Mommy and Cape May Moms, to host the first Bloggers @ the Beach at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, June 10 – 11, 2011. Harrah’s being the first hotel in Atlantic City to have a Family Fun Center & Pool (which we WILL tell you all about.) For two days, we will show the best bloggers the best Atlantic City has to offer families.
We believe it’s another step in the right direction to making Atlantic City a family-friendly resort.
What do you think?