Safety, youth programs and homeless outreach highlight Atlantic City mayor’s look to future
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small entered his State of the City address last year dressed as a Transformer.
This year, he opened with a song.
Small hit the stage at the Metropolitan Business & Citizens Association luncheon at the Hard Rock with “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” the theme for the city, he explained
The mayor then laid out a plan that includes police officers in the schools and walking the beat, more youth programs, increased homeless outreach and renovations to roads and lighting.
He also pointed to another tax decrease buoyed by an end to 2023 that saw Atlantic City’s books $36 million in the black.
“You’ve been a trusted partner to our administration and we look forward to seeing Atlantic City continue to flourish under your leadership,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a recorded video.
“By the way,” the governor said, as his wife, Tammy, joined in, “we can say, ‘Great day!'”
The mayor touched on the string of homicides that started the year.
“My heart hurts each and every time when someone is murdered,” he said, noting that many wind up being former kids he worked with through the Boys and Girls Club or schools.
“I want to promise each and everyone of you here, Atlantic City is clean. Atlantic City is safe,” he said. “Those bad, horrific first two weeks we had is not the norm and I won’t tolerate it.”
Small gave a breakdown of the 30 officers that will be added through a COPS grant.
Every kindergarten through eighth-grade school will have an officer assigned to it, he said. Two officers will be at Atlantic City High School.
The remaining 10 officers will be dedicated to patrolling Atlantic and Pacific avenues, including walking patrols. He will also be re-establishing the Motorcycle Unit.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Small said. “We’re going through a rough patch.”
Some other highlights of the speech.
Pop Lloyd stadium will get a facelift and become a hub for youth sports, the mayor said.
Construction will begin this year, and includes blue turf and five fields: the main baseball diamond, a full soccer fields and three fields for a variety of sports.
Youth sports offerings will include golf, karate, an MLS soccer program and cricket to address the multicultural aspect of the city. The Police Athletic League will also have wrestling.
The Atlantic City Ballet is also partnering with the city to have a program with youth 7-14 on Saturdays at Boardwalk Hall.
There will also be a Junior Multicultural Fire Academy.
Monday will see 10 new hires for homeless outreach.
He said that 20 of the 26 people who were living there have hotel rooms and are getting help.
The Boardwalk Improvement Group will be implemented by Memorial Day.
The partnership between the public and private sector aiming to improve the overall quality of the Atlantic City Boardwalk and beaches was initially announced in October.
City Hall honors the past
Small opened his speech with a focus on the relationships the city has with the state and other entities, and took a moment to honor the late Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who he credited as a crucial part of the youth and senior programs in the city.
The courtyard between the county building and City Hall will now bear her name, he said. New construction is set to begin this year.
Murals inside City Hall will also honor the past, including homages to James Usry, the city’s first black mayor, and James Whelan, who was Small’s mentor.
The mayor who is notoriously afraid of dogs announced that the city’s first dog park will be at Altman Park in early 2025.
There will also be one at Bartram Avenue so that both sides of the city have one.
Atlantic City Aquarium
Small said the Atlantic City Aquarium will open July 1.
Renovations were supposed to already be done, but Small said he decided the outside needed to match the upgraded interior.