Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small held a press conference Tuesday to address the controversy over the removal of a business from Gardner’s Basin.
The business administrator, solicitor and city attorney were part of what Small said would be the “last time” he would speak on the matter.
Fish Heads has been at the Basin for the past seven years. But Small claims Green Acres limits allow for only two eating establishments.
Owner Gregory “Dredgie” Wood said he has been told about the issue for years but it wasn’t until an altercation with the mayor’s wife that action was taken to remove him.
Small said if that were the case, he wouldn’t have worked to try to get another spot for the business.
“I said, look, work with the attorneys and find another location in the city, come back to me and we’ll see if we can support it,” Small said Tuesday,
Discussions included the Sea Wall and the Walk.
Small said he had several conversations with management at Tanger Outlets, which owns the Walk, playing up Wood’s business.
Wood said it wasn’t a good fit.
Small said he tried to give Wood as much time as he could to leave the site, saying it had been going on for seven weeks.
But when Wood still hadn’t moved last week, it was removed to the city’s tow lot over the weekend.
Wood did get his business out, moving it to a “save and secure” location, he told BreakingAC. He said he had to pay about $1,500 “so far,” adding that “other costs may come eventually from the city.”
Wood’s supporters have said the mayor should have fought to keep the only black-owned business.
The battle has become a political football, with Small’s detractors claiming he should have done more to help the Basin’s only black-owned business. They allege the move is personal, after Wood and Small’s wife, Dr. La’Quetta Small, had a verbal altercation.
The mayor dismissed that claim, pointing out it was nearly a year ago, and that he has continued trying to help Wood find a new location.
Details of what happened during that altercation differ.
Both sides agree that it surrounds the boy who was a victim of Dr. Small’s cousin, Ka’yan Frazier.
Frazier is currently in federal prison after pleading guilty in a child pornography case. He met the victim, named in court papers only as Minor Male 1, while working as a substitute teacher at Pennsylvania Avenue School, when Dr. Small was principal there.
Wood’s camp claims Dr. Small was drunk last June when she started screaming at him about employing the boy.
But the mayor claims it was Wood who was intoxicated when he asked Dr. Small why she didn’t support his business.
According to her husband, Dr. Small told Wood that she couldn’t come to his location with the boy there, since there is ongoing litigation the boy’s mother filed against Frazier, the school board and the Smalls.
The full press conference can be viewed above.