The end is near for one of Atlantic Highland’s most misunderstood issues. If you have been following events relating to a proposed casino boat, a resolution seems to be on the horizon. At last evening’s borough council meeting, the Chairman of the subcommittee assigned to explore the boat said that the Harbor Commission will hear their report at the August 14 meeting.
Before a recommendation can be made, the subcommittee had to explore the idea. A Mayor and Council – in every town- is obligated to listen to proposals, gather facts, kick some tires, and then decide on the merits. If a proposal can bring in some revenue to the town, that has to be weighed against the impact of the quality of life. A governing body is not obligated to act on every proposal, but one would be shirking their duty and responsibility for not keeping an open mind. Very often, these proposals go nowhere, but sometimes good ideas get fleshed out and our town becomes better for it. One only has to look at the current ferry service or our open space to see the result of ideas that had been brought to the attention of the governing body.
And so it was with the Casino Boat. At no time had the Mayor and Council entered into any agreement, or fast tracked any proposals. Mayor Fred Rast publicly discussed what he knew about the proposals and what it could mean to the town, but the only official action taken was a subcommittee of the Harbor was appointed to explore the idea. The objective was to be deliberate, flesh out the issues, and evaluate the fitness of the operators.
It appears that the subcommittee has enough information, or will have enough information, to make a recommendation to the Harbor on August 14. While this writer is not privy to any of that information – because some of it is not public- it would be a long shot for the proposal to get a thumbs up. If one can speculate, and why not since everyone else has about the issue, there doesn’t seem to be any way to have all the questions answered within six weeks time. Besides the legality of gambling in this form, figuring out the logistics of a proposal such as where the boat could dock, or where the cars would park, cannot possibly be done in that amount of time. One only needs to remember that it took almost six months to determine that moving a building from Takanassee to Atlantic Highlands was not feasible.
And that was on a much smaller scale with far less social or legal issues. Even if the subcommittee and Harbor approved it at the August meeting, the Mayor and Council have the final say. Considering that the Mayor and Council have never even had a formal public proposal presented to them, the current proposal appears to have little chance of moving forward, and that’s only because this writer still has to keep an open mind. The astute observer of Atlantic Highlands would know that this Mayor and Council have been very conservative in their stewardship of the borough, that we have promised extensive public meetings on this issue (and every issue) should it go forward, and that there are numerous questions that cannot be satisfactorily answered in such a short period of time. The very fact that a subcommittee can make a recommendation so quickly, leads this writer to believe that the current Casino boat idea is dead in the water.