ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Harbor Commission of Atlantic Highlands was pleased to listen to the issues and concerns of its residents and marina customers that attended its regular monthly meeting on July 10, 2012. The Commission had a very extensive public portion of the meeting regarding the proposal of Casino Royal, LLC. This meeting provided a forum for the Commission to present preliminary information known to it, listen to personal opinions and to gather additional information volunteered by the meeting attendees.
A short time ago a proposal was submitted by Casino Royal, LLC to berth a 184 foot vessel in the marina to provide gambling and entertainment offshore in Federal waters. The proponents of the project anticipate creating 65 to 100 new jobs and to provide a new revenue source for the Commission. The municipal marina revenues have been affected by the current economy. Every effort is being made by the Commission to provide the same or better services to its customers and Borough residents. Every effort is being made to offer competitive rates to its customers and to maintain its financial significance to the Borough. Keeping the harbor a beautiful, fun and safe place is paramount in the Commissioners’ minds.
The Harbor Commission is a utility of the Borough overseeing the municipal marina operations. The Harbor Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and Council. Many residents believe that the marina is the centerpiece of the Borough providing a place of beauty and relaxation while serving as a destination attraction for its very special First Avenue commercial district. The municipal marina makes significant contributions to the Borough for the police, fire, sanitation and other services it uses.
The Harbor Commission has formed a subcommittee with elected and appointed officials as well as citizen members to study the feasibility of the Casino Royal proposal. Great effort was made by the Commission at the July 10th meeting to clarify that no decision to approve or deny the proposal has been made. More importantly the Commission members refuted a rumor that the proposal was on a “fast track.” Quite the contrary! There is no “fast track” process for non-emergent significant projects including the Casino Royal, LLC project. The Commission employs a thorough and deliberative process whereby its standing and ad hoc subcommittees review proposals, research the facts and make a recommendation to the entire seven member Commission. The subcommittee and Commission also ask for its professional engineer and attorney for advice and services. There have been no executive session
discussions about proposal by the Harbor Commission. Significant harbor projects require Mayor and Council approval.
Commission Chairwoman Jane Frotton and Municipal Councilman Roy Dellosso, chair of the Subcommittee, committed to all in attendance last night that there would be transparency in its deliberations and in the decision making process.
Currently the Subcommittee is in the preliminary stages of its due diligence regarding the proposal. The Subcommittee in collaboration with all the Commission members, its staff and professionals, the Mayor and Council composed a first set of questions to be answered by Casino Royal, LLC. Questions regarding parking, noise, utility demands, safety and licensing to name just a few were asked. It is very likely that this will not be the only demand for information. The Commission will most likely be asking for an opinion letter from the proponent’s attorney regarding the New Jersey State and Federal licensing issues to serve as a basis of legal revue as well.
Again, any significant proposals before the Commission require approval by the Harbor Commission and the Mayor and Council. Both bodies publish their meeting schedules, agendas and minutes on their respective websites. If you have any information that would be helpful to the Commission kindly mail or email it to the Commission.