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Atlanta City motivate firefighters to move into the city

29 October 2001

The firefighters were discussing the city''s social problems: the poverty, the crime, the deteriorated neighborhoods and the struggling public school system. fire Capt. Rod Knox, who lives in the city''s Inlet section said "I grew up here. I know how bad it is," The majority of the city''s 276 firefighters live in other towns. Similar to Knox, Wiener living outside Atlantic City, even though he works here. The city doesn''t enforce residency requirements on its firefighters, although there are efforts to attract more of them to put down roots in the community. A new program by the CRDA, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the state agency in charge of invigorating the resort with new housing and economic development, offers firefighters financial enticements to buy existing homes or build new ones in Atlantic City. The CRDA believes that police officers, teachers and firefighters will be more involved in the community if they live here. And with that to create more vibrant and economically diverse neighborhoods. CRDA executive director, James B. Kennedy, at first was unwilling to expand the program a second time after Mayor James Whelan urged him to include firefighters. But he quickly changed his mind following the deaths of hundreds of New York firefighters in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Kennedy said, "If you look at what happened in New York, it''s clear that police and firefighters are the new front line of defense for a lot of problems confronting us," Although new schools are being built, crime is down and the CRDA has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new housing and economic development, conferences last week with firefighters at the Indiana Avenue firehouse revealed that the same old insights stayed. One firefighter, who asked not to be identified said, "Take a look, most of the houses are run-down, and lots of people are afraid of the crime. I have people come down and visit me and say, ''Damn, don''t they ever clean the streets in this town?'' " No matter how attractive the housing motivations are comments like those strongly suggest that it won''t be easy for the CRDA to lure more firefighters to the city. Wiener, who lives in Absecon, said he would consider taking part in the CRDA program but first must be convinced that the Atlantic City school system is stronger.

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