Saying that the bill violates the constitutional prohibition against so-called special legislation, and that it will take away local control of a decision vital to the Atlantic City region, Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina this morning expressed their disappointment that Governor Jon Corzine has signed into law a measure that will give Trenton control over the sale or lease of Atlantic City?s Bader Field.
?This bill is special legislation because it applies to only one municipality in the state, but the Governor chose to ignore this constitutional issue and sign it into law,? said Polistina, R-Atlantic. ?The Local Finance Board in Trenton lacks expertise in the area of casino development. This decision should have been in the hands of local officials. The Atlantic County Freeholders, along with the CRDA, have an established record of credibility and trustworthiness to make certain that this process will receive proper oversight.?
Corzine signed a bill that would give the state Local Finance Board control over the sale or lease of Atlantic City?s Bader Field site and that would set up a trust fund for the proceeds. Some estimates have placed the value of the 143-acre Bader Field property as high as $1 billion.
Polistina and Amodeo are sponsors of a bill, A-2593, stipulating that the revenue generated from the sale of Bader Field would be deposited into a dedicated trust fund that will give residents of Atlantic City a direct property tax credit. That bill further provides that the administration of the trust would be carried out by the CRDA, which would consult with a five-member oversight board to determine a comprehensive investment plan.
?We wanted to make sure that the state bureaucracy does not impede or restrict a community?s rightful participation when considering the redevelopment, sale, or lease of a municipal asset,? Amodeo, R-Atlantic, said. ?Our bill is an alternative to those who incorrectly think that Trenton should decide the future of Bader Field, which circumvents the concept of home rule.?
Amodeo and Polistina said that Trenton officials didn?t get their way in negotiations and discussion with the City so they added multiple layers of additional Trenton bureaucracy to the process so that they could ensure they will get their way in the handling of Bader Field?s future.