ATLANTIC CITY — The city is continuing its effort to rid itself of its painful eyesores — even the little ones.
Officials with Atlantic City’s Special Improvement District have removed dozens of city signs posted along the Boardwalk that were old, dirty and vandalized. The recent cleanup is part of the ongoing effort to alter the city’s Boardwalk experience spearheaded by Mayor Lorenzo Langford’s Strategic Planning Committee.
Most of the signs had been posted by the city over the years to advise resort visitors of various Boardwalk rules, such as not to feed the hovering seagulls, or to post beach and bicycling hours. But through the years, the number of signs continued to increase into a clutter of messages taking away from the natural atmosphere.
“It almost looked like a hockey rink. That’s how much signage was on the Boardwalk,” said Don Guardian, head of the Special Improvements District.
Some postings fell victim to vandalism. The sun faded others, and a few were just flat-out confusing.
“There would be a sign that said, ‘No picnicking,’“ Guardian said, “but there was no indication if that was for the beach or the Boardwalk.”
The district identified more than 100 signs along the boards that needed to be removed or replaced with new advisories that are more welcoming, easier on the eye and less distracting. The district has designed two new signs, one for the Boardwalk and one for the beaches, that first welcome the visitor, then list restrictions “for your safety.”
“I liken it to a hotel; it’s nice to get a little chocolate on your bed,” said Ken Calemmo, a local attorney and member of the subcommittee of the mayor’s group focused on city cleanliness and safety. “Every little bit helps. Our goal is just to take a lot of little steps along the way to make a more enjoyable day for the visitor.”
Both Langford’s committee and Gov. Chris Christie’s advisers have identified blight as one of the many obstacles to marketing the city as a resort destination. Langford has campaigned to remove deteriorated buildings.
Guardian said part of the sign problem involved residents and community groups posting their own signs, adding to the clutter.
Kevin DeSanctis, CEO of Revel Entertainment Group and the head of the subcommittee, said discussions with the city also resulted in new plans to enforce sign-posting restrictions.
“There are no policy changes that are happening. Everything is already on the books,” he said. “But for whatever reason, it got a little out of control.”
DeSanctis said the city agreed to better enforce the signage laws, which require those hoping to post signs to get approval from city government.
The Special Improvement District began working in May to identify which signs they could remove. Guardian said he met with the heads of the Police Department, Beach Patrol, Mercantile Division and Public Works. The new signs will be put in place after new Boardwalk poles are installed during the winter. The entire process is expected to be complete before Memorial Day.
Revel officials also donated used decking that is being replaced in front of its still-unfinished casino. The district will create from the decking mitered wood frames for the beach signs, which will then be placed on decorative posts on the trails leading to the beach.
The district has made several new changes to its approach to the Boardwalk, including assigning three additional workers to continuously clean along the boards, 16 hours daily, year-round. Previously, the agency only dispatched two workers between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The SID also began placing trash receptacles along the Boardwalk after the city established an evening trash collection during the summer season.
Meanwhile, other efforts to improve the famed wooden walkway continue to be discussed by the mayor’s committees.
“We have taken several walks on the Boardwalk and come up with a a bunch of recommendations,” DeSanctis said. “Slowly, we’re going to see some changes.”
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