Friday, May 29, 2015

Students and Faculty Alike React to the Island Campus

by Paige Conticcio, Dan Passarelli, and Patrick Stewart
Guest Correspondents

At the beginning of the Spring, 2015 semester, students learned that Stockton University would be expanding into Atlantic City and creating an Island Campus.  During the entire semester, there was mixed reaction from students and faculty alike as everyday the status of the campus changed.

Initial Reactions of Students
With a purchase like this, many people will come to disagreements. Sitting in class students often heard small talk between students on how they feel as well as class discussions with teachers on how they feel. Some thought it was great for the school, others -- not so much.

Some people found it a great purchase to not only help Stockton but Atlantic City as well. With the areas that Atlantic City struggles in -- crime, human trafficking, and civic engagement -- it seemed as though Stockton would swoop in and "save" Atlantic City. The school would be able to give more officers to the City to assure the campus' safety as well as Atlantic City.

Continued Developments
But with recent breaking news it seems like this information doesn’t even matter anymore. On the very morning of March 25, 2015 the students received word that the school will no longer own the Showboat Casino and will have to put the casino back on the market. By the end of the semester, it seemed the seller of the casino isn’t finding the way Stockton was going to use the location satisfactory.

A covenant from 1988 states that this building must be used as a casino. The way Stockton was going to use it wasn’t going to satisfy that contract. Casinos are used to gamble, drink, and party. Stockton was going to use it for furthering student’s education, growing the school, as well as housing students. But since students won’t be gambling, drinking, and partying at the Showboat, the contract is violated and Stockton will have to put it back on the market in two and half weeks if the problem isn’t resolved.

Faculty Perspective
Before students gained this breaking news we held an interview with the head of the Communications Program, Christina Morus. We wanted to sit down and get to know how she felt about the purchase of the Showboat. Some of the first rumors that came out from this purchase was the Communications Program would be moved over there.

We went on to ask Professor Morus of how she felt about the possible move for the Communications Program.

She stated, “Personally I feel like the kinds of classes I teach can easily be on an island campus or be on our campus.” She continued on to discuss the possible problems this might cause for her department:

“In terms of the whole program moving it’s been a little bit complicated to make those decisions, in part because we just built that new stuff for the TV studio and in part because the radio station, it needs to stay here because of licensing and stuff.”

At the end of this question her personal take is that she would rather stay on the main campus --  but if the move has to be made, she would make the move. With this new campus the one problem you hear constantly on Campus is the transportation situation. How will students get from the main Campus to the Island campus?

Professor Morus told us, “Well, they said there’s going to be a shuttle, they said there’ll be a shuttle that goes from here to there, so you can take the shuttle.”

But what about the teachers, how will they get to the new campus being that so many of them come from the Philly area?  Professor Morus continued to talk about the shuttle and just how the students get shuttled over, the teachers would be able to get shuttled over as well.

When it comes to the transportation and jumping from campus to campus, a lot of things would have to be changed and professor Morus discussed these changes. Going on and saying, “They would also have to change the class modules. Because you can’t, there’s only ten minutes between classes and you really need a half hour to get over there and get in and stuff.”

This is another great point of the problems this massive purchase presents. If the school wants their students always late to their classes that is fine, but if they want this to work out they will most certainly have to come up with a new class module.

Who Would Go?
Another big problem that seems to be coming about for teachers and their majors is which are being moved to the Island Campus. Around campus you’ll hear certain teachers don’t mind the move but then others have a big problem with the move.

This all falls under the topic of what and who will be moved over to the Island Campus. With them having a few different majors to be taught over there, we were able to get professor Morus opinion on whether or not that would be a good idea of having multiple majors and multiple subjects taught over there.

She went on to talk about the idea of mirroring what we do at the main campus, with having a few majors over there along with general study courses. But she believes the programs that will be moved should be moved completely, we shouldn’t just have half over there and half over here. In her eyes she felt the majors that would be best suited over at the Island campus were; hospitality and tourism or even business.

Professor Morus feels though the college doesn’t want to segregate anybody and that’s the reason for the possibility of mirroring the main campus. The last and final thing we wanted to get professor Morus’s opinion about is the student’s safety over at the new Island Campus and how she felt with students living in Atlantic City.

She went onto discuss the potential of it and how it would be less expensive than building something from scratch at the main campus. But when it comes to the students safety she said, “Some of the people that think it’s like a bad idea aren’t sure how we are going to do the space and aren’t sure how we are going to account for students safety, because it is a very different environment.”

She also talked about the image of Stockton’s campus and how the two campuses would be completely different, “When you send your student to Stockton, you’re thinking about this little college in the forest and it’s very different than an urban campus.”

With all these questions there are still so many answers to be given, answers that need to be a explored. But after all this discussion between Professor Morus and our group it doesn’t seem like we will need the answers to the many questions we have of the Island Campus. Because if Stockton doesn’t get a plan or agreement to keep the Showboat, the very Island Campus we believed we would have would be part of the past.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

True Believers (The AC Times, May 20, 2015)

True Believers  (The AC Times, May 20, 2015)
By Harriet Diamond
I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st Century.
Gerald Gordon, President and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

Because the arts are integrally entwined in our city’s viability, we are all stakeholders in the future of the arts in Atlantic City. Below are two of the many entrepreneurs who contribute to building an arts community.
Ursula Ryan celebrates 35 years in business in Atlantic City this year as the city works to recapture the excitement of those early years as an entertainment capital.  The owner of the Weist-Barron-Ryan agency, on Atlantic Avenue since 1984, she provides training and opportunity for aspiring actors.   Ursula continues not only  to train actors, but also casino executives, front line staff, politicians, and local TV and radio personalities.  “We’re all actors on a stage called life,” she explains. 
Ursula arrived in the US from Europe in 1960 and went to New York City as a singer.  She studied commercial acting, and the legendary Weist-Barron agency booked her jobs in TV commercials.  She then became a talent agent and was asked to join the group.  When the company decided to sell franchises, Ursula’s talent as an entrepreneur surfaced; she and four others bought the Philadelphia franchise. 
Sal Dupree, a voice coach based in Ventnor, urged Ursula to move her business to South Jersey.  She ultimately settled in Atlantic City.  She worked with Atlantic City icon, (Judge) Jerry Consalvo, a SAG actor and the force behind the Columbus Day Parade, who had a theatre in Ventnor.  Ursula also collaborated with Bill McCullough’s modeling agency.  “We trained Miss America, Suzette Charles, in soap opera acting. We worked with cast members from Annie and had several Miss New Jersey's as clients. 

“Many continue to come to us for speech and presentation improvement.  Acting is a great skill for anything we do in life.  It is so gratifying to see and hear from those who, after our training, got their lives in order and went on to higher education and/or acting careers.“

Local, related projects are important to Ursula.  She recently provided actors for the Atlantic City Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker and for a Casino Reinvestment Development (CRDA) brochure. Weist-Barron-Ryan offers pre-teen workshops along with assisting adult actors.  One current endeavor near to Ursula’s heart is creating a movie with five developmentally disabled actors, some with Downs Syndrome and others with varying degrees of autism.  The project is yielding positive changes in the actors’ interpersonal reactions, self-confidence, self-discipline, and the ability to overcome an impediment such as stuttering.

Ursula continues to develop talent to maintain Atlantic City’s corner of this market.  Each client who goes on to greater opportunities does so with the imprimatur of having studied in our city by the sea.  “We have a great talent pool, in South Jersey.  We can once again attract the film industry. Weist-Barron-Ryan provided 500 cast members for The Warrior, but most of that film was shot in Pittsburgh; just as Boardwalk Empire was filmed in New York.”

“Welcoming filmmakers can put Atlantic City on the map. We have everything to create a first class film location:  Growth for acting as an industry and proximity to NY and Philadelphia make Atlantic City a convenient hub for filming.  By offering tax credits, NJ can compete in this market.”

Steve Kuzma first shared his art in South Jersey when AtlantiCare hired him in 2005 to provide a body of work for its Life Center in Egg Harbor Township.  His reflective paintings and prints, depicting landscapes and seascapes, remain a part that wellness environment.  Steve continues to integrate his calming artwork with healthcare programs throughout the state.  His signature work is both refreshing and relaxing to viewers.  Recalling Atlantic City’s origin as a healing destination, bringing visitors to the salt water and fresh air, Steve reminds us,  “Atlantic City was initially a restorative, healing place.”  He continues to nourish that concept through his art.
Boardwalk art shows, in which Steve has participated, have been a perfect vehicle for marrying art to the environment.  “I love to paint on the boardwalk,” he says.  Steve’s union of art and the environment is demonstrated by his 20’ panorama at Garden Pier, where he currently has a one-person show featuring local themes.  His projects and commissioned work are often murals. In line with his art-is-healing theme, Steve is now working on several health-related projects throughout the state.
Steve expressed gratitude to the Atlantic City arts initiative.  “When my studio in Ocean City was destroyed by hurricane Sandy, Michael Cagno approached me about joining the Arts Garage community.”  The concept is an important one.  Artists need fellowship.  The events at the Garage have been terrific – for the artists and the visitors. Having a place to show their work is so critical to artists.” 
Emphasizing how the arts bring a new demographic to the city, he cites his customers from around the world. Attracting visitors who appreciate the arts strengthens not only the art institutions and the businesses of the individual artists, but the entire community.  Every visitor has to eat somewhere, possibly enjoy some entertainment and the boardwalk, shop a bit, and maybe even gamble.
“Although many good people are working hard to support the arts in Atlantic City, we need to assist artists with living and working space and affordable parking.  Surviving in this economy isn’t easy; it is still a struggle for many. I look forward to a strong initiative that builds on the swelling excitement for the arts in our area.”
DO AC ARTS:  Enjoy the many art, music, dance, film, and other cultural offerings that are embedded in Atlantic City’s history and that are a significant component of the city’s renewal and diversification.

 “True Believers” appears monthly in The AC Times.  Are you a “True Believer”?  Email Harriet Diamond at  Harriet is a retired business owner and management consultant, now living in Atlantic City.  She is the author of eight business and communication books and numerous published articles.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Brigantine City receives $1.4M for stormwater pumps

Great Grant for Nice Pumps. While improving the addressing of flooding here, it will also not alleviate tainted overflow at the ACUA end. Per the Society Of Civil Engineers, natural solutions must be employed. On site pervious surface increase will allow direct drain back into the aquifer, while saving $ short & long term. -George Loza PA/NJRA, ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager

BRIGANTINE– City Manager Ed Stinson told council at its Wednesday, May 20 meeting that Brigantine will be one of the first New Jersey towns to receive more than $1 million in federal funding to improve local storm resiliency through a grant program administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
A $1.379 million grant will completely fund three new pumping stations at Hackney Place, Lighthouse Circle and 34th Street and Jenkins Parkway to help the city combat flooding as the result of storms.
Council quickly moved through its agenda, approving four ordinances and a number of resolutions.
All of the ordinances were up for second and final readings, and were adopted with little comment from the public.
The first two dealt with appropriating funding for the Brigantine school district. One approved bonding $3,817,609 for school improvements. The other appropriated “certain unexpected proceeds of the sale of previously issued bonds and notes to finance the cost of additional capital improvements” totaling $1,242,724.84.
Councilman Rick DeLucry voted “no” on both ordinances, saying he was uncomfortable with the lack of detail. He also questioned the second ordinance, saying some of the previous bonds were from 1993 - “Twenty two year old bonds?”
He cast the only “no” votes. The second two ordinances passed unanimously.
Council approved an ordinance amending the Residential Development Fee Ordinance, waiving the fees on affordable housing projects in cases of fire, flood or other natural disasters.
A contract $172,123.75 was awarded to L. Feriozzi Concrete Co. for improvements to 8th Street South. It was lowest of six bids received. Part of the cost will be paid by a Community Development Block Grant.
A grant agreement was approved for the city to obtain $125,000 to fund “coastal protection along Brigantine Boulevard.” Council also authorized the city’s obligation of a 50 percent matching payment.
It has been months since a motorist ran into the 14th Street stairs of the Brigantine library resulting in the entrance being closed. Council awarded a contract to Aliano Brothers of Vineland for its low bid of $115,200 and an additional cost of $1,330 for tread units. The accident is probably covered by insurance.
The engineering firm of Remington, Vernick & Walberg was approved for a contract to perform engineering services for a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant for seven street-end bulkheads. Their fee will be $33,900.
City Council’s next meeting is scheduled 9 a.m. Saturday, June 6. The Saturday meeting was scheduled as one of two meeting that would allow second home owners concerns be heard. The meeting agenda and supporting documents will be available online

Public pitches ideas at Atlantic County economic forum

One man suggested making an arts district in Atlantic City. Another proposed making the resort “the world capital of games.” A woman said it should it be the wellness capital.

About 100 residents of Atlantic County gathered at the Atlantic City Convention Center Monday to bounce ideas off one another during a public forum on diversifying the economy. The forum, which included business and political leaders, was the second of three such meetings. The third will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 24 at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton.
“We need diversification,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson during opening remarks. He said the area has a foundation in medical, education and tourism.
“We want to build upon that,” he said.
Angelos Angelou, of AngelouEconomics, the economic consulting firm hired to help Atlantic County create a plan to diversify its economic base and improve salaries, gave his thoughts during the forum. He stressed that the area cannot rely on the state for help.
“Economic development is local,” he said.
Angelou said the firm has a three-phase timeline for its project. He said the first phase, a market assessment, is “pretty much complete” and a report will be presented to the county this week. The second report will be released in 45 days and a final report will be given in the middle or end of July.
During the public portion, ideas ranged from expanding education to attracting Internet moguls.
George Loza, of Brigantine, said Atlantic City should stick to its strengths as a resort. He also said last weekend’s Garden State Film Festival can be built upon.
“That can fit in with truly creating an arts district,” Loza said.
Peter Liu, of Linwood, said the city should stick to another strength -- gaming -- but not just gambling.
“Games of chance and games of skill. We need both,” Liu said. He said young people “are crazy about video game tournaments.”
Mindy Solkin, founder of The Running Center in Atlantic City, said the city should capitalize on the new popularity of health and fitness and make the city the “wellness capital.”
Ronald Young, managing partner of R&R Development Group, showed renderings of plans to develop Bader Field. He said he already has financial commitments of up to $75 million. He said his plan included a marina and a monorail, and would help bring jobs and entertainment. He also said the area needs to attract international tourism.
“We need China, we need London, we need the world,” he said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Old New Jersey Factory to House Earth’s Largest Vertical Farm

Image result for aerofarms newark

Article by Urbanist, filed under Offices & Commercial in the Architecture category

 Opening this year in Newark, this 69,000-square-foot space will grow 2 million pounds of pesticide-free produce each year, turning an old steel factory into the largest indoor farm on the planet, 75 times more productive per square foot than open fields.

This AeroFarms facility is to serve both as the company’s global headquarters as well as the anchor project for a Maker’s Village designed to grow business in the city and provide a prototype for scaleable urban agriculture.

 Plants rooted in reusable micro-fleece cloth and stacked in modular planters will be sprayed by a nutrient mist and illuminated by LED lights. These crops require no soil, 95% less water and create no harmful runoff.

 Located on a 3-acre industrial site in the Ironbound neighborhood, the structure will expand the role of affordable and local urban farming in the community and provide nearly 100 long-term jobs for residents.

Such an approach offers a new potential future role to rundown industrial districts around the world, turning unused infrastructure in struggling cities into fresh indoor farming space. The key to the process is the materials: a “reusable cloth medium [supports] seeding, germinating, growing, and harvesting.”

This critical cloth “has a number of benefits such as durability and re-usability, increased cleanliness and sanitation, and the efficient harvest of a dry and clean product.” In terms of LED innovation and efficiency, the company is “targeting specific wavelengths of light for more efficient photosynthesis and less energy consumption.  LEDs can also be placed much closer to the plants, enabling greater vertical growing for even greater productivity per square foot.”

Aeroponics is the key to the solution, limiting the need for conventional watering and representing “a cutting-edge type of hydroponic technology that grows plants in a mist. The aeroponic mist most efficiently provides roots with the nutrients, hydration and oxygen needed, creating faster growing cycles and more biomass than other growing approaches.

AeroFarms has designed its aeroponics as a closed-looped system, recirculating the nutrient solution and using over 95% less water than field farming.”

“We are delighted to introduce AeroFarms, a farming and technology leader, to the City of Newark, creating jobs for local residents and greater access to locally grown produce for our community,” said Ron Beit, founding partner and CEO of RBH Group.

“AeroFarms will anchor our broader ‘Makers Village’ development project in the Ironbound neighborhood that will compete toe-to-toe with the Brooklyn Navy Yard in terms of a superior cost structure and greater trans-modal access, bringing 21st century ‘maker-type’ businesses to Newark and the State of New Jersey.”

True Believers -- Small Businesses in Atlantic City

By Harriet Diamond 
Special Correspondent

 Small businesses that fully embrace commitment to their customers, quality goods and services, and reasonable pricing are essential to Atlantic City’s resurgence. 
-- Joseph Molineaux , Director, Small Business Development Center

 For more than two decades, the mantra, “Small business is big business” has surfaced and resurfaced. Small business owners in Atlantic City with vision, creativity, and energy continue to succeed despite a challenging economy.

 One such business is Pilani’s, a unique store that opened on the boardwalk between Chelsea and Montpelier Avenues in 2002, adding a store at Texas Avenue within four years, and most recently investing in an additional location adjacent to their first.

Talk about true believers! Pilani’s began as an ethnic store, carrying high quality Indian clothing and jewelry at an affordable price point. The clothing is all private label, handmade, cotton. The jewelry includes natural stone. They are wedded to the business motto, “know your customer,”

Pallavi and Bharat Aggaarwal continue to grow their business to meet evolving tastes. The store at 3113 Boardwalk has incorporated non-ethnic clothing and added lines for the home as well as stationery items for an expanding customer base. This store caters to the more sophisticated customer, but even the younger crowd will find delights there.

Next door, 3111 remains ethnic, with Indian clothing and jewelry along with home d├ęcor items and hand-made stationery from India. The store at 2615 (Texas Ave.) attracts a younger crowd and stocks items that appeal primarily to that demographic; however, women of any age will find clothing and jewelry to suite them as well.

 This refreshing boardwalk chain recently added unusual souvenirs and beach-related items, all matching the quality for which their brand has become known. When asked why she and her husband chose the boardwalk for their businesses, Pallavi answered without hesitation, “The beach. People come to enjoy the beach.” And they do; and they have, year after year. Pilani’s, which only closes in January and February, has attracted a following from as far away as Texas and California. Those loyal customers were the impetus for the Aggarwals to add mail order to their buying options; however, when these customers return to Atlantic City (and they do), they visit their favorite boardwalk store.

Pilani’s was recognized in December, 2014, by the New Jersey Small Business Development Center with a Success Award for their foresight, their unique product offerings, and the welcoming layout of their stores. The displays are as tasteful as the clothing, jewelry, and accessroies they highlight. Pallavi is thrilled with the changes coming to Atlantic City.

 “We already see the benefits from the boardwalk tram and increased foot traffic from the Tropicana’s ongoing, exciting additions.” Business is up 11.5%, a feat in this economic climate. The Aggarwals look forward to the highly anticipated transformation of the Pier to Playground and the role that will play in bringing more people to the Atlantic City boardwalk. Stacy Foster-Godwin, the entrepreneur who created A1 Tours just three years ago has become an accidental ambassador for Atlantic City.

When asked about the impetus for starting her business, Stacy enjoys traveling and exploring various destinations while doing so. Born and raised in Atlantic City, she believes that her hometown “has a colorful history, and touring offers an opportunity to share this experience.” She reaches tourists through DOAC and Internet searches that locate her.

 Additionally, as a member of the Atlantic City Concierge Association, she has a broad network that is instrumental in referring visitors to A-1 tours. “People take our tours for enjoyment, for information, or just to satisfy their curiosity.”

 While many of us know that the Atlantic City boardwalk was the first in the country, that’s news to out-of-state and even some not-from-South Jersey New Jersey residents. Did you know that the first boardwalks were actually rolled up and put away at the end of the summer? Among the tours offered are the drive around the city, touching on historical landmarks and things to do as well as a boardwalk walking tour and a marina tour.

When A-1 began, the city tour included 21 points of interest; it now identifies 44. These include the eclectic mix that is today’s Atlantic City: White House Subs, Duck Town, the Arts Garage, the Atlantic City Historical Museum, the Knife and Fork, the War Memorial, and the remaining casinos, to name a few.

 Visitors are not only interested in Atlantic City’s history, but also in its future: Will Revel reopen? When? I Stockton University coming to the island? When?

 Although she doesn’t have all of the answers, Stacy can maintain visitors’ interest in the outcomes and offer a positive perspective on the many changes.

“I love to point out Tanger Outlets’ expanded roster of stores, including the new centerpiece, Bass Pro.”

 Visitors love it all – the history, the revitalization, the activities, the entertainment, the restaurants. By taking the tour, they can better plan their stay, and, perhaps, realize the value of returning to DO more AC.

 Stacy takes as much pride in the history of Atlantic City and its iconic landmarks as she does in its future and the planned changes. “I see the future of AC only one way: Big and bright. The current transition opens the door for the next big thing.”

 She continues, “We now have an opportunity to make Atlantic City better than before. Stay tuned.” The accidental ambassador concludes, “What I love about Atlantic City is that it’s small enough to bring in fresh and new businesses and large enough for them to grow and thrive.”

 These business owners are using their varied talents and their enthusiasm not only to promote the businesses that they created but also the city that they love.

“True Believers” appears monthly in The AC Times. Are you a “True Believer”? Email Harriet Diamond at Harriet is a retired business owner and management consultant, now living and writing in Atlantic City. She is the author of eight business and communication books and numerous published articles.