WHAT’S AHEAD FOR BRIGANTINE? A PERSPECTIVE.
1. The Census population of Brigantine is in a steady decline. In 2000 it was 12,594. By 2010, this number was down to 9,450. The next Census occurs in 2020. Until then, these numbers plus other useful indicators support the reality of a decline.
2. Another trend is a continuing decline in the school population. The Brigantine schools were built to accommodate more than 1200 students. There are now 571 students, pre-k through grade 8, a loss of 92 students in 3 years.
3. Fewer businesses are operating on a year-round basis. Note the vacancies in the business districts. Fewer year-round residents mean fewer profitable businesses. The exception to this is the real-estate business which benefits from the City’s high percentage of second-home owners and which plays a significant role in a shore community’s economy. These part-time owners’ substantial property taxes are also welcome revenue for the municipal budget.
Here’s the bottom line.
Without more full-time residents, the City’s economic base continues to decline. Our island will become more of a seasonal shore resort and less of a thriving year-round community with a variety of private-sector services. Is this our future?
Factors behind the population decline – boom-sale years before 2008, 2008 recession, collapse of several casinos – unemployment and foreclosures, damage done by Sandy – properties abandoned, high property taxes
An Encouraging Trend – Atlantic City’s economy is growing and diversifying, a possible positive spillover to Brigantine.
What Can Be Done?
1. A community-wide discussion of these trends will focus attention on their significance and timeliness.
2. Changing emphasis, if this be our goal, means recognizing & enhancing our island’s advantages/assets and advertising them.
3. Increase marketing our island as a good place to retire and as a family hometown throughout a wider area. Improve our schools’ academic performance to encourage families to become year-round owners. Reduce property taxes.
4. The City’s Economic Development/Tourism Commission should present its perspective on our year-round population.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave a comment below.