ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Officials are set on improving Atlantic City’s main drag. New initiatives are aimed at making the business center of the city more welcoming.
The city’s police officers and new interim mayor are joining forces, and that includes working with local business owners.
If you travel past the outlets on Atlantic Avenue, you’ll see a different side of Atlantic City — one the mayor wants to clean up.
From shops to salons, for decades this boulevard two blocks from the beach was the business hub of Atlantic City.
“I know as a kid coming up here I got everything I needed from Atlantic Avenue. And the past few years it’s been a non-welcoming sight,” Interim Mayor Marty Small said.
As outlets arrived further south on Atlantic Avenue, Small says the area from the bus terminal north has been neglected and become a magnet for vagrants and criminal activity.
“It’s not acceptable for your main drag to look like this,” Small said.
So utilizing his newly-acquired powers as mayor, Small has a plan to clean up the avenue.
Police officers are now assigned to every block along Atlantic Avenue from Indiana Avenue to City Hall. They’re not only there to stop crime, but the extra officers can act as a liaison between residents, business owners and the city.
“Ongoing police presence, it’s made the area a little bit more safe and clean and crisp and it’s been more presentable,” said Marcuss Arrington, with Kings and Queens Hairstyles.
Helping in the crime fighting effort is the police department’s expanding surveillance system.
Since it launched two years ago with cameras on the boardwalk, the Atlantic City Headquarters for Intelligence Logistics Electronic Surveillance — A.C.H.I.L.E.S. for short — has added hundreds of cameras.
“The cameras have greatly aided in investigations, in countless arrests of individuals, recovery of items,” Atlantic City Police Sgt. Kevin Fair said.
So this holiday season, outlet and Atlantic Avenue shoppers can feel a little more secure.
“It’s an extra added advantage for us against crime in those areas,” Fair said.
“When you talk about Atlantic City, we talk about wanting to be the number one tourist destination. We can’t be that if we’re not taking care of home,” Small said.
The mayor says that the police saturation initiative, if it successful on Atlantic Avenue, he will try to use it more next year in some of Atlantic City’s troubled neighborhoods.