Atlantic City visitors say the destination needs improvement
A number of significant projects are in the pipeline in order to improve Atlantic City's reputation, economy and overall vibe, and according to many visitors of the resort town, help can't come soon enough.
Hackensack resident Susan Lockwood, taking a break from the slots at the Golden Nugget, said she only visits Atlantic City for the gambling, and wouldn't trust doing much else.
"It's like a ghetto," she said of the city. "It's horrible, absolutely horrible."
According to Lockwood, the downfall of Atlantic City started with the closure of the Sands Casino Hotel in 2006.
Four gambling houses stopped operations in 2014 alone.
Yousef Mikheal of North Brunswick, visiting Atlantic City for the first time in six months, insisted the marina district has seen some improvement, but the city's boardwalk section is a ghost town.
"Definitely in the old days, it was much better than now," he said.
When asked what Atlantic City needs to improve the most, a number of residents pointed to the quality of the roads before anything else.
"You need new shocks after you come down here," said Jerry Zdenek of North Wildwood, wrapping up a five-night trip to Atlantic City.
Zdenek said he'd be willing to walk the streets alone, but wouldn't let his wife do the same.
As a resident of nearby Egg Harbor Township, Dominic Cordivari said he's seen Atlantic City at its best and worst, and right now, the city has bottomed out.
"I think things are only going to get better," he said. "There's been a lot of negative press about Atlantic City, but we still have the beach and we still have the boardwalk."
Cordivari called for more "family attractions" in order for the city to gain momentum.
On Tuesday, city officials mapped out their plans for an "Entertainment City" concept on the former site of Bader Field airport. An amphitheater and a fishing pier, meanwhile, are some of the ideas that have been tossed around for Gardner's Basin on the other end of the city.
A Bass Pro Shops location is scheduled to open Apr. 15 at the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway, with up to 1 million visitors expected in the first year of operations.
According to the store's general manager, 98 percent of hiring was the result of a three-day job fair in the city earlier this year.