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Mayor: Borough Wants to Help Monmouth Park

The racetrack means jobs, tax revenue, and tourism for Oceanport, N.J.

The major of Oceanport, N.J., where Monmouth Park is located, told Gov. Chris Christie the borough could serve as a vehicle to keep the facility operating until the state signs a deal with a lessee.

Mayor Michael Mahon sent the letter Dec. 14. Oceanport, a community of about 6,000 residents in Monmouth County, relies heavily on the racetrack for tax revenue, jobs, and tourism.

Monmouth, operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, was to be leased by casino owner Morris Bailey until the deal fell apart in early December. Christie blamed the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which in turn criticized the state for its handling of the proposed lease agreement.

“Setting the recent impasse in negotiations aside, we believe the ability to achieve this goal is within reach,” Mahon said in his letter. “Our very community hangs in the balance. The uncertainty with Monmouth Park adds significantly to the burden already carried by local taxpayers, business owners, and job seekers following the recent closure of Fort Monmouth.

“The hardships facing a middle-class community are many, but these dual challenges facing Oceanport are uniquely difficult.”

Mahon told the governor the Oceanport Borough Council and Monmouth Park Task Force, of which he is a member, stand ready to “support your efforts, and the efforts of those who share your vision, to provide for a sustainable industry structure to preserve live horse racing at Monmouth Park. The borough extends its resources and commitment to resolve the current differences in an atmosphere of trust.

“We further offer to participate in the negotiations and provide a vehicle for transition to a new model of sustainability.”

Bailey said to have abandoned his bid to lease Monmouth. Christie on Dec. 12 gave all parties one week to resolve the issue.