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Boathouse row: Takes differ on why Stockton's crew team moved out of Atlantic City

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Stockton University's rowing team no longer rows out of Atlantic City's boathouse.

But how that came to pass is a point of contension.

The previous narrative has been that Stockton was kicked out of the boathouse, and had to find a new home.

But Superintendent Dr. La'Quetta Small says that is not case.

The district was in the process of redoing their agreement with Stockton when she took over the district's top spot Jan. 1, Small said.

She had multiple conversations with Don Hudson, Stockton's senior vice president of Facilities and Operations, toward the end of January, which culminated with a Zoom meeting Feb. 7.

It was then that she said Hudson told her March -- when the board would have a chance to vote on the new agreement -- "would not meet his needs."

"As a result, he advised me that Stockton would be moving to find another venue," she said. "Our plan was to allow Stockton to continue to use the boathouse, but they decided to pull out."

That's only part of the story, according to a statement released by Stockton.

The talk was to "possibly (extend) the agreement for the spring 2022 rowing season, since we understood -- and (Dr. Small) reinforced -- the district had other plans for the boathouse going forward," Stockton spokeswoman Diane D'Amico wrote.

The statement, however, did corroborate Small's take on the March vote not fitting in Stockton's timeline.

"While the superintendent was agreeable to the spring extension, we were notified mid-February that Stockton would not be able to use the boathouse until the extension was approved by the Board of Education" at its March 22 meeting.

"That was much too late for our rowing teams, especially since Stockton had a regatta planned for April 2-3," D'Amico said. "The decision was then made by Stockton to move to Brigantine, which was immediately available.

"Brigantine was also willing to have a long-term agreement," she added.

"We remain committed to partnering with various community organizations and stakeholders, including Stockton," Small said. "We welcome community partnerships."

Small's husband, Mayor Marty Small, was less reserved about his take on the issue.

He said the controversy was created by "an irrelevant idiot morning talk show host, Harry Hurley, who's wrong alleging that Stockton was kicked out 'unceremoniously,' when even Stockton says they tried."

Hurley has been covering the issue for months.

The Smalls' public statements only moved the radio host to double down, releasing a copy of a letter to Stockton general counsel, Brian Kowalski, written by outgoing Superintendent Barry Caldwell and dated Dec. 20, 2021.

In it, Caldwell reminds Kowalski that the three-year contract agreement Stockton entered with Atlantic City for the boathouse had expired.

"At this time, the Atlantic City School District is recommending that Stockton University find an alternative location for the crew program as soon as possible," Caldwell wrote. "The District is going to be expanding its use of the boathouse and will no longer (be) able to accommodate your usage."

The issue has also moved state Sen. Vince Polistina to call for state oversight of the city to extend to the school district.

Mayor Small said that will never happen.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
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