At the same meeting, board members approved the acceptance of $2 million from the state Department of Community Affairs to fund the NAACP convention scheduled for July. This state money is in addition to the $1.2 million already pledged by the CRDA, pledged when the city was first considered as a site for the convention.
The board approved the negotiation of a memorandum of understanding with the state for the use of the funds.
Board member Debra DiLorenzo asked for more details on how state money should be spent. It seems to be still in progress.
“The legislation did not provide any direction on what costs would actually be covered and how the process would work,” said Monica de los Rios, CRDA’s acting executive director. She said the NAACP had recently sent a budget for the convention to the CRDA and that discussions were underway about how individual positions would be covered.
State funds will go through the CRDA to cover the costs of the convention.
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“The money is going to come in and it’s going to go out,” DiLorenzo said during the meeting.
“It has to go specifically to the convention, nothing else,” board chairman Modia Butler said.
“We expect the expenses to be over $2 million, so we shouldn’t have a problem,” de los Rios said.
“And we’re going to be fully responsible for that as a board of directors?” asked MP Bill Mullen.
“Over the past month, Monica (de los Rios) has been focusing on that like a laser beam,” Butler said. The CRDA has been given wide discretion over how to spend the funds, he said, as long as it relates to the convention.
The NAACP’s 113th National Convention is expected to bring $7 million in economic benefits to the station at the height of summer. Meet AC, the city’s convention booking agency, expects around 11,000 people to attend the week of July 14-20.
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Mayor Marty Small Sr., who also sits on the CRDA board, recused himself from the vote on funding for municipal services, but he spoke to the board about the plans, which will fund programs for youth, people elderly and will offer “multicultural services”. from May 1 to December 31.
“As you know, this city has a growing South Asian population, and we have a staff that is ready to serve them,” Small said.
Lieutenant Governor Shelia Y. Oliver, also a board member, supported the measure.
“I certainly support this initiative that the mayor is proposing,” she said.
The city currently has no outreach services for seniors, Oliver said. There are state and county programs available, including programs to provide meals for older residents. The grant will allow the city to help residents access these services, Oliver said.
She also welcomed plans to include youth programs beyond sports.
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“We need to offer our young people things beyond athletics,” she said. “We have to do technology programs, we have to do culinary arts.”
There was an athletic element that she approved of.
“I’m glad to see that swimming has been added to this new app because many young people in underserved communities don’t know how to swim and the biggest pool in the world is the Atlantic Ocean,” she said.
The CRDA Board of Directors also acts as the planning board for Atlantic City for projects in the tourist district. As such, the council approved two projects for Bally’s, including a volleyball stadium with approximately 1,000 seats.
Lance Landgraf, director of planning and development at CRDA, told the board that the project required variances for the height of certain elements, including the bleachers and a 14-foot-tall press box. He said the plans were for the project to be seasonal, to be dismantled at the end of each summer.
The board unanimously approved the application.
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The board also agreed to fund a nearly $115,000 parking grant for students and parents of the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation Youth Institute for Jazz Studies. Parking is provided at 715 Indiana Ave.
Henrietta Shelton, owner of the foundation, thanked the board for their support. She said the organization has been in Atlantic City for 25 years. The institute offers jazz lessons in drums, piano, flute, trumpet and other instruments.
She invited the council members to visit.
“We are going to revitalize this whole neighborhood. So please board members come see exactly what you are helping to support with the students of Atlantic City as well as Atlantic County,” she said.
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