Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oceanport News: Monmouth Park Task Force Report for 1/20/11

The below was sent by our good friend and neighbor in Oceanport, Councilman Joseph Irace. As an immediate neighbor to Monmouth Park here in Long Branch District 10, the success or failure of Monmouth Park has a direct impact on local voters as well as local businesses, jobs, tourism and taxes in my own district. I continue to agree with Councilman Irace that permitting Monmouth Park to expand it's "Shore Destination" status by adding slots/video poker/table games, more restaurants, hotel/meeting space, etc would be a good thing for the area financially speaking, and would ensure that the track remains viable to continue to fund and pay for the retention basin project needed to put an end to runoff pollution in the river and cleanup any left over environmental damage.

Councilman Irace's report is below:

On Monday January 10th our Monmouth Park Task Force met to discuss the future of Monmouth Park as it pertains to the recent Hanson Report Part 2. Our Task Force meeting was attended by a varied cross section of members including two former New Jersey State Senators, a horse veterinarian, thoroughbred owners, and concerned Oceanport residents. The meeting was very specific and our participants quite vocal and knowledgeable. Our Task Force once again maintained the position that VLT’s, slot machines, or an all out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey. All the surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland now have some form of gaming at their race tracks. This uneven playing field enables our competitors to lure New Jersey horseman out of State with larger purses and better quality horse racing.

Knowing the current legislative posture in New Jersey and knowing that gaming is not coming to the Meadowlands this year, our Task Force was once again proactive in seeking solutions to get us through 2011 and beyond. Among the suggestions were: working with Monmouth Park to seek alternative revenue streams such as a boardwalk type facility in the picnic area, upscale restaurants, concerts, retail boutiques and perhaps even a hotel. Anything to make Monmouth Park more desirable as an asset to the State, not just for horse racing, but as a destination place
in the heart of the Jersey Shore.

The Task Force continues to ask for the actual financials of Monmouth Park, not of the full New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, of which Monmouth Park belongs. Are the numbers the State uses correct when they say the facility loses $6 million? We do not think so and would like to see the empirical evidence.

We continue to be concerned with the possible veto of a bipartisan bill approved in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly that would enable horse racing to not only survive, but to thrive. It is important to remember that horse racing contributes 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space to New Jersey.

Our Governing Body and our Task Force will continue to lobby our elected officials on behalf of Monmouth Park. It is important not only to Oceanport and Monmouth County, but to the state of New Jersey as well.

Joseph Irace
Borough of Oceanport

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