Tourism District

is poorly designed

The state's attempt to revive the ailing Atlantic City casino industry is not an altruistic effort done solely for the benefit of Atlantic City. Rather, it is conceived to revitalize a much-needed tax-revenue stream for the state. That effort should be embraced, but the plan is poorly designed.

The Tourism District, with its harsh borders, divides the community rather than bringing it together. It doesn't appear to me to be an effort to separate minorities from the Tourism District, but rather to separate commercial areas from noncommercial areas, although imperfectly at times. If left unaltered, it will potentially discriminate against those excluded from the district.

Was the omission of Gardners Basin and the Atlantic City Aquarium, both successful tourist attractions, merely an oversight or something more ominous? I believe it was intentional and clearly signifies something far more serious.

Politicians from as far away as northern New Jersey and Trenton are playing politics with our future. There are rumblings that the exclusion of the basin and aquarium from the district was to prevent Atlantic City from becoming in any way an attraction for families and to protect Wildwood and similar towns from competition.

But why should Atlantic City put all of its future solely in the hands of casinos? Casinos should be a major amenity, but not the sole attraction in Atlantic City. Otherwise, we are short-sighted.

Let's broaden our efforts to present to the world a multifaceted image of Atlantic City, where casinos are a major attraction, but not the sole dimension of our community. We can distinguish ourselves from other Jersey Shore towns by establishing unique attractions such as an artist colony, aerial people-movers, non-casino entertainment, water taxis, fish hauls, etc.

Let's welcome the state's involvement, but let us not allow blinders to destroy the opportunity to make Atlantic City something other than just a casino town.

JAMES L. COOPER

Margate

James L. Cooper retired as chairman of Gardners Basin and the Atlantic City Aquarium in January.

Langford's wrong -

state help good for A.C.

I found Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford's Feb. 16 column on the Tourism District, "Tourism plan divides Atlantic City into separate, unequal parts," very disturbing.

He describes the undertaking as being akin to apartheid. Seriously? As a taxpaying resident of Atlantic City who happens to be white, I find this a glaring example of the mayor's lack of culture and vision.

The African-American population in Atlantic City has decreased by 15 percent over the past decade. Conversely, the white, Hispanic and Asian populations all have increased. Maybe the mayor is too self absorbed to notice this, but since I have pointed it out, how about a little respect?

The simple fact is the city has endured ineffective leadership for too long, and Langford is to blame for a large part of it. A while back the state audited Atlantic City and found rampant overspending, overhiring and just plain mismanagement. But City Council aides remain on the payroll; the hiring of friends and family continued during a hiring freeze; and a budget was introduced that wasn't even legal under state guidelines. Business as usual.

Except this time something is being done about it.

It is irresponsible for the mayor to say there is no "real crime" on the Boardwalk. What do you consider vagrancy, panhandling, theft and destruction of property?

Recently, a section of the Boardwalk literally fell into the Inlet over a portion of beachfront where people frequently swim underneath. What if that had happened in July instead of February?

The people of Atlantic City now have an opportunity to see these things fixed - to see blighted areas revitalized, to see renewed investment and creative thinking. And all the mayor can do is play the race card and yell apartheid?

RICHARD CIABATTONI

Atlantic City

Now mayor can focus

on city's other problems

Regarding Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford's Feb. 16 column on the Tourism District, "Tourism plan divides Atlantic City into separate, unequal parts":

Maybe I missed something, but I was under the impression that the state created the Tourism District because Mayor Lorenzo Langford was ineffective in improving the city. He was unable to form an alliance with the casinos and provide a game plan that would drive the business in this shore town. Instead he aligned himself with the handful of people who elected him, providing patronage jobs in places like the Weights and Measurements Department.

Even with the Tourism District in its infancy, investors are looking at us again. Revel Entertainment Group has money to finish its casino, which equals thousand of jobs for this town. It seems that the mayor did the best thing in accepting the help from those who can help him. For that, he should get a pat on the back. Now, he should be focusing on getting locals to work, fixing the roads, cleaning up the neighborhoods, providing a grocery store and creating safer neighborhoods.

Good job for allowing the state to help you. Now work on the other city ills. There are many.

THOMAS GOUKER

Atlantic City