New Jersey League of Municipalities officials have canceled their Nov. 13-15 conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center, giving another major economic blow to the city, but preserving the site as an evacuation shelter for residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
“It would have been great to demonstrate that Atlantic City is up and running,” said Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority President Jeffrey Vasser. “But we knew their members are still heavily affected by the storm and there were concerns about everyone getting here.”
The league posted the cancelation on its web site Monday afternoon. The notice said that the Executive Board met via conference call and decided to cancel the league's 97th annual conference due the cumulative impacts of Sandy, the forecasted noreaster for later this week, and the ensuing public safety and health concerns in communities across the state.
The notice says: “The League Board made this decision after extensive discussions and consultations with the Christie Administration, Legislators, and representatives of the Atlantic City Convention Center and the representatives of the city's hospitality industry. This decision reflects the need for local elected and appointed officials to remain in their communities to continue their recovery and restoration efforts.”
Vasser said he is working with the league to hold the event early next year.
“The event is an opportunity for the league to bring everyone in to talk about the lessons learned from the storm,” he said.
William Dressel, executive director of the league, said no decision has been made yet on whether the rescheduling will be possible.
The New Jersey Education Association, which was to meet in Atlantic City Nov. 7-8, canceled lits convention ast week.
Vasser said the League of Municipalities convention represents a loss of as much as $20 million to the city, greater than the estimated $10 million that would have been generated by the NJEA.
“The league is here one day longer, they use the entire center and they have a lot more ancillary events than the NJEA,” Vasser said. “There is a larger city-wide impact.”
The Atlantic City Convention Center became the county’s new evacuation center Friday after the NJEA canceled. Vasser said there was an understanding that the shelter would have to move if the League of Municipalities convention was held. The cancellation means the shelter, which has been housing several hundred people, can remain open as night temperatures drop and another storm is expected this week.
“The shelter won’t provide the revenue of a convention, but right now there are bigger issues to address,” Vasser said.
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