Plans are being kicked-around to turn Bader Field into a new neighborhood for Atlantic City, complete with homes, businesses, and parks. Is that really the best way to develop that area?

Bader Field is a 140-acre airport that closed in 2006. At that time, that plot of land was billed as one of the hottest spots in Atlantic City for a new casino, perhaps fetching upwards of $1 billion. Six years later, Bader Field is still a closed airport that has seen no development.

Just this week, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director John Palmieri told people attending a luncheon in Atlantic City,

Longer-term usage, as we view it, is to make [Bader Field] into a new neighborhood for Atlantic City, where mixed uses prevail, where affordable housing is part of the mix, where environmental and green technologies prevail, where water views are protected and access to outdoor public spaces are protected." (source: Press of Atlantic City)

This is the last large piece of undeveloped land in Atlantic City. Is building houses and stores on it really the best way to use Bader Field? Why not focus any potential new casino development to the boardwalk, redevelop some of Atlantic City's existing neighborhoods with new and redesigned housing, and push new stores and businesses to the boardwalk, The Walk, or even Pacific and Atlantic Avenues? That would allow Bader Field to become a family-friendly destination that can continue to host multi-day concerts (the Dave Matthews Band Caravan drew 70,000 people last summer), sporting events (two small sports venues are already there), and more.

While any actual development of Bader Field is (still) years away, the planning process is now underway. Before it's decided to build more houses and a series of strip malls on Albany Avenue, serious consideration should be given to turning Bader Field into a fairgrounds-like area, which could easily draw both locals and tourists into Atlantic City on a regular basis. Just last week, a survey revealed Atlantic City needs more non-gaming attractions to keep itself competitive with other cities. Here's a chance to turn this area of Atlantic City into a regional destination, not a neighborhood.

What do you think should be done with Bader Field? Post your suggestions below.