Atlantic City changes the locks on police union headquarters &#8211 but the PBA president isn’t leaving

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ &#8211 Dave Davidson Jr. knew time was running out at the city-owned police union headquarters. He just didn’t know how quickly.

The city’s PBA president was having his morning coffee Wednesday when he started getting calls about a Public Works official and police officer at the building on Annapolis Avenue – with a locksmith.

Davidson knew the union needed to find a new place. The PBA received a letter in August saying the city expected them out by Aug. 24 in preparation for a community project at the site.

While Davidson said he agrees with what the city plans for the property, there was not enough time for the union to find a new home and move everything.

The city has provided the building in Chelsea Heights for 17 years, as part of a negotiated agreement that the union would have a place as long as it was available.

Now, the city is saying it has no available space.

“Am I supposed to take that as gospel?” Davidson asked Deputy City Solicitor Irv Jacoby, who was at the site Wednesday morning.

“The collective bargaining agreement allows you to be here?” Jacoby asked.

Davidson then showed him where the pact promises space, if available.

The union has been working to find a new headquarters, Davidson said. But being expected to move so quickly was “unreasonable,” Davidson said.

First, there were plans to buy a place, but that was rejected by the payroll board. Now, he says, they are close to a rental deal for space in the Guarantee Trust Building at 1125 Atlantic Ave. for a little more than $1,400 a month. But that still has to go to an executive board vote set for Friday. Davidson said Dec. 1 would be about when the moving process could begin, and asked that they be given until Dec. 15 to get out.

That would give enough time to move everything from the current building to the new space – and a storage area, Davidson said. He estimated most of the PBA’s belongings would have to go to storage since the current space is more than 2,000 square feet, while the new spot is 850 square feet. The 300-plus officer membership also will need another place to meet.

“Could Dec. 1 work as a beginning process?” Jacoby asked.

When Davidson indicated it could, Jacoby said he would take that back to the city, and get back to Davidson.

But by the end of business Wednesday, there had been no word back from the city. Jacoby did not answer calls for comment made to his office, where someone said he had left in the afternoon for the League of Municipalities convention.

Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee said it is “an unfortunate situation that I hope can be resolved quickly either by agreement or, worst-case scenario, the civil courts.”

In the meantime, Davidson has consulted with the union’s lawyer and said he will stay in the building until they are granted an extension – and keys to return.

“I will not physically be leaving this building,” Davidson told Jacoby.

“We have a kitchen, we have a bathroom,” Davidson said in an interview. “Absent those keys and an agreement, I’m not going anywhere.”

From The Press of Atlantic City.