Will Needle Exchanges, Rehabs & Drug Crime Hurt Tennessee Ave Project in Atlantic City?

Actual crime, or just the perception of crime will hold back even the best laid plans for the Atlantic City Tourism District. The promising Tennessee Ave project is one such non-casino tourist attraction with ample potential for success. Except for that pesky, drug & crime infested neighborhood right next door.

Can Tennessee Ave developers help re-invent Atlantic City? Will the CRDA protect the small, non-casino businesses in the tourism district?

Just steps from the much ballyhooed, albeit risky, Tennessee Ave project, is a collection of recovery houses, methadone clinics, abandon properties, creepy back alleys and needle exchanges. At it’s core, is the well-intentioned John Brooks Recovery Center, South Jersey’s largest public facility for inpatient substance abuse treatment.

A critical public service in the worst location possible; the Atlantic City Tourism District controlled by the CRDA.

Heroin addicts, pimps, crack hoes, two bit hustlers and other questionable characters gravitate towards this oasis of services like food, shelter, rehab, methadone, mail service, needle exchange, sex education, hot showers and more.

We used to be full-blown Tennessee Ave skeptics. We couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind spending any time on Tennessee Ave without a police escort and bullet proof vest. But the increased police presence seems to be working, for now.

Still, we cautiously visit Tennessee Ave. only during the day. We stay away at night. Our well-being is more important than scarfing down some world famous wings when the sun goes down.

The Atlantic City Tourism District has money, manpower and vast resources that other AC neighborhoods do not have.

How effective has the Tourism District ‘public safety’ plan been? In some areas….quite good. But this particular 3rd ward crime & drug zone at Pacific & Tennessee is nothing to be proud of.

If not dealt with pronto, this drug den is likely to squash one of the most promising, privately funded, non-casino projects in years.

According to RTforty.com, they collected 911 records obtained through OPRA, a open public records act request. It shows the opioid overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan) was administered 47 times in Atlantic City between March and the end of August this year. These are conservative estimates.

Atlantic City is well aware of the drug-use and related crime problems in this area. So what’s holding back the crack-down on this open-air crack club?

Why isn’t the CRDA doing more to make the Tourism District more attractive to tourists?

Crime is the #1 impediment to Atlantic City’s re-invention. Fix that, and you’re well on your way a new Atlantic City. Otherwise, Atlantic City will remain a cash machine for the state where casinos win and residents / small businesses lose.

At a recent meeting of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the CRDA agenda included a budget vote for Meet AC, Boardwalk Hall and the Convention Center, among other items targeting expenditures that benefit Casinos and CRDA holdings. Zero dollars were allocated to dealing with crime, better lighting, and other residential necessities.

‘Oasis’ centers are located in Atlantic City and Camden. These ‘Drop In Centers’ provide assistance to individuals living in these areas. They offer services such as; snacks, laundry services, telephone use, food, shelter, rehab, methadone, mail service, needle exchange, sex education, hot showers and more.


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