GOMES GAMING | News | AC Summit - Dec. 8, 2009
Three panels to suggest specific solutions after second
Atlantic City summit
By MICHAEL CLARK Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
ATLANTIC CITY - Mayor Lorenzo Langford and other leaders from the city created three groups Tuesday to address areas affecting the resort’s future: quality of life, government cooperation and public relations.
Tuesday marked the second meeting of casino executives, public officials and neighborhood representatives assembled by Langford to help reverse Atlantic City’s fortunes as the resort struggles to emerge from the recession and compete with nearby gaming destinations.
The participants will meet in small groups and reconvene Jan. 5 with specific proposals in those three areas.
One group, headed by Revel Entertainment Group CEO Kevin DeSanctis, will focus on public safety and cleaning up the city. Another, run by Casino Control Commission Chair Linda M. Kassekert, consists mostly of public officials and aims to relax government regulation and enhance cooperation between state and city agencies. Former Tropicana executive Dennis Gomes will chair the third committee, designed to create new city events and bolster the resort’s public relations and advertising tactics.
Langford had provided the group with 12 issues he said were vital to maintain Atlantic City’s status as a premier resort. He said the committees were formed voluntarily, to address those issues most effectively.
“They’re expected to come back to the general body with specific recommendations,” Langford said in his conference room after the meeting.
DeSanctis, leading the group focused on improving the city’s appearance, is a proponent of an infrastructure plan that could significantly alter the city’s neglected Inlet section. Major improvements to the city’s Boardwalk and Garden Pier are part of a $50 million city financing deal that would redirect city and county tax revenue from Revel to fund six improvement projects.
The state’s Local Finance Board was scheduled to review the plan today, but Revel and city officials agreed to delay the casino’s application Tuesday pending further preparation.
DeSanctis, like many others at Tuesday’s meeting, declined to comment on specific ideas discussed at the meeting.
“I think there will be a lot more information once we get organized and go to work,” he said.
The meeting was the first for Gomes, who sent a representative to the first meeting. His committee, according to Trump Entertainment CEO Mark Juliano, will find ways to improve marketing, public relations and establish new events such as the city’s old “neighborhood festival kind of events.”
“Anything that helps raise the visibility of the city in a positive way,” Juliano said.
Langford, City Council President William Marsh, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina, both R-Atlantic, and state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, round out Kassekert’s group, which is dedicated to improving government relations and assistance.
“We all need to support Atlantic City to make these necessary changes, whether it’s legislative or just regulatory, to move forward,” Whelan said. “Clearly casino regulations is one part of this. And even though the state is broke, we have existing programs in terms of job training and that kind of thing to contribute.”
Whelan said state officials can also work to ensure that when Revel’s casino project opens, local and regional residents will be the first ones employed.
The meeting included some new attendees, such as Bart Mueller, executive director of the South Jersey Transportation Authority, or SJTA. Mueller was assigned to DeSanctis’ committee to help with city maintenance and cleaning.
“I enjoyed the spirit of cooperation. Everybody parked their ego at the front door,” Mueller said after the meeting. “It’s an indicator that something is going to get done.”
Assemblyman Polistina said some in attendance discussed a proposal Langford previously made to hire 10 individual street sweepers armed with a broom and a trash can. Polistina said there was talk of that plan expanding to include help from the SJTA.
“We have a great work force here and we can dedicate doing some projects along the (Atlantic City) Expressway,” Mueller said. “But all that’s to be determined.”
The entire group seemed to share Mueller’s enthusiasm.
“It really is a cooperative effort at a historic time,” said Nicholas Ribis, CEO of Resorts Atlantic City. “This is something that has never been done and everybody seems to be on the same page.”
Contact Michael Clark: Press of Atlantic City
A list of 12 city priorities laid out by Mayor Lorenzo Langford last month was divided into three committees Tuesday. The individual groups will meet over the next four weeks and report back Jan. 5 with specific proposals to solve some of the city’s biggest problems.
Environment: Kevin DeSanctis, CEO of Revel Entertainment Group
- Demolition of derelict properties
Public relations: Dennis Gomes, President, CEO
and Owner of Gomes Gaming, Inc.
- Coordinated advertising efforts
- Customer courtesy
- Nongaming attractions
Government: Linda M. Kassekert, Casino Control Commission chair
- Intergovernmental agency cooperation
- Property taxes
- Regulatory relaxation
- Traffic synchronization
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