ATLANTIC CITY — The new duo at the helm of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority want to lead a more responsive, transparent and forward-thinking organization.
Matt Doherty, 44, and Marshall Spevak, 30, assumed their respective roles as executive director and deputy executive director of the authority July 1 and oversaw their first official CRDA meeting Tuesday.
Doherty, the former mayor of Belmar, Monmouth County, was appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy to the $175,000-per-year position in March. Spevak, former chief of staff for Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both of Atlanic County, was appointed in April to fill the role vacated by Doherty’s promotion.
The new executive director said his primary mission is to “spearhead development in the Tourism District” by working with smaller developers to entice investment while capitalizing on the momentum from larger projects already taking place. He said it’s his job to build off the positive energy generated by the opening of two new casinos, the Stockton University city campus and the 600 North Beach housing development in the South Inlet.
The second part of Doherty’s new job is to “be a cheerleader for all the positive things going on in Atlantic City.” Part of that, Doherty said, is allowing the authority to be “more engaging with the community” and “more transparent in our operations as an organization here in the city.”
“After years of negative press — rightfully so — now is the time for us to really promote everything that’s happening in the city and bring in more private economic dollars to develop vacant land that are oceanfront, beach-block properties,” he said.
Spevak said his experience working in the halls of the state Legislature will help streamline CRDA operations. He said the CRDA will actively work with residents, businesses and civic groups to navigate the bureaucracy that all too often stymies progress in the city. As an example, Spevak said residents who attend monthly meetings and seek answers to seemingly basic questions will no longer have to return multiple times or wait months for a response.
“We want to be responsive to the residents who live here in the Tourism District and to all the residents in the city,” Spevak said. “Now that I’m here, I’ve come to realize just the incredible amount of things that go on here. This is an important organization in the city. We really cover so much here. But I think we have a really good staff that’s on top of it.”
Spevak said the goal is to shift the agency’s energy from a singular focus, such as promotion and marketing, non-gaming economic development or allocation of financial resources toward concentrating on all the responsibilities of the agency equally. He said the role of the CRDA should be to “improve not just the image (of Atlantic City) but the city itself.”
“CRDA can’t just be one of those things. We have to be all of those things now,” he said. “We have to do more with less because we have less money. And we have to be, at the same time, tackling it all and being more responsive.”
The next CRDA public meeting is 2 p.m. Aug. 21.