Atlantic City’s Boardwalk will see an infusion of $1.7 million before the end of summer, an investment that officials say is necessary to improve the walkway’s appearance prior to the return of the Miss America parade in September.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved the reservation in May for funding that will go toward purchasing supplies needed to fix the Boardwalk’s tattered ramps, railings and boards. The authority also approved negotiation of an intergovernmental agreement with the city, whose Public Works Department will handle the repairs.
CRDA Executive Director John Palmiericq said it was necessary for the authority to fund the improvements to the city-owned Boardwalk if repairs were to be made quickly. The authority has anticipated that funding would be needed to spruce up the city prior to the Miss America Pageant’s return and had previously set aside $1 million for repairs in the city. That funding was directed to the Boardwalk and is now included in the $1.7 million allocation.
“The city essentially said the employees could make the repairs but there wasn’t money for supplies, so that’s what we’ll be providing,” Palmieri said.
The authorization was approved unanimously, but some board members expressed concern over the authority’s funding of city responsibilities.
City Public Works Director Paul Jerkinscq has not returned calls or emails about the repairs to be made to the Boardwalk.
The city has been grappling with budget difficulties attributed to a $3.7 billion loss in ratables as a result of casino tax appeals. Residents are facing a nearly 24 percent tax increase next year. CRDA meanwhile is financed by Atlantic City casinos also facing revenue declines. They are required to contribute 1.25 percent of their gross annual revenue to the authority.
“It is not our responsibility, but otherwise it wouldn’t get done because the city says it has no money,” said Robert Mulcahycq, vice chairman of the CRDA board.
Among the repairs needed are fixes to damaged railings and ramp entrances to the Boardwalk. Those discussions have given way to questions about how much of the Boardwalk will be used for the Sept. 14 Miss America parade. Structural issues with the Boardwalk mean that it may not be strong enough to hold vehicles in some places, CRDA officials said, noting that an exact starting point for the parade hasn’t yet been selected.
“It’s reconstructed to a certain point, but past that point it’s not safe to put vehicles on,” Revel’s former CEO Kevin DeSanctiscq said of the Boardwalk’s condition at a recent CRDA meeting.
The repairs were fast-tracked due to the pageant’s return to the city, but some officials stressed that regardless of the pageant, the appearance of the Boardwalk should be a priority.
“We shouldn’t be doing this in May next year. It should be done for Memorial Day weekend,” CRDA board Chairman James Kehoecq said.
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