Stockton University will move forward to develop partnerships and funding for a Coastal Resiliency Institute and Marine Science Center in Atlantic City, the university announced Sept. 27.
A recent feasibility study commissioned by Stockton recommended locating the institute in Absecon Inlet, specifically the Gardner’s Basin area.
The study said the CRI/MSC could serve as a hub for the development of a “blue economy” in the region due to its access to the ocean, deep-water marina facilities, surrounding waterways, dunes, beaches, wetlands and urbanized coast necessary for teaching and research.
The study’s recommendations include contributing to ongoing initiatives to explore development opportunities in the city, specifically in the area of Absecon Inlet; establishing an interim or immediate oceanic outpost at Gardner’s Basin; and identifying opportunities for research, education and workforce development in the area.
Stockton President Harvey Kesselman formed a committee last summer to execute the study, which is a continuation of a 2019 report recommending such an institute and was funded by an Innovation Challenge grant to Atlantic City by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
Kesselman said the institute would provide opportunities for research crucial to the future of the Jersey Shore and its economy. He said it would also help diversify the Atlantic City economy and position the city as a leader in environmental issues on top of its entertainment and gaming identity.
“We all recognize that we need to be prepared for the impact of climate change,” Kesselman said in a prepared statement. “This center can expand on the crucial work of Stockton’s Coastal Research Center and Marine Field Station, providing research and educating the public and the next generation of marine scientists. Stockton has been a leader in this area for decades and Atlantic City, as an economic driver for the city and the state, can and should be the location for this institute.”
No specific timeline has been established, but Stockton’s announcement said that Kesselman will be actively looking for public and private partners and supporters at the local, state and national level; and that dredging of portions of the Absecon Inlet region will be necessary to provide appropriate access for vessels to the Gardner’s Basin area.
“This is too important not to do,” Kesselman said. “We will figure out a way, but we cannot do it alone.”