Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Money Trumps All At Jones Beach

The Donald, As Spoiled Brat, Rubs Sand In The Eyes Of LI Taxpayers; The Biggest "Losers" In Trump Deal Are Nassau County Residents

Talk about a cry baby!

Donald Trump, who is building his playground for the wealthy on the site of what was once the humble Boardwalk Restaurant at Jones Beach State Park, doesn't want to waste time getting permits.

He doesn't want to pay property taxes, either.

In fact, he feels that, in hindsight, he could have invested his $40 million in pocket change elsewhere.

So, it comes as no surprise that the Donald would throw a tantrum at the beach -- and sand in the faces of Long Islanders -- in typical spoiled little boy fashion.

Sure, everybody loves to blame Harvey the Assessor. But when you behave like a rotten little rich kid who has to have his way on everything, and engage in petty name calling, we don't care how much you made with your father's money, you are the loser.

This may be a "small job" for the Donald, but its a big deal to us. We have no problem with Donald Trump making a buck, just not on the backs of Long Island taxpayers.

Yes, he of the coiffed locks is clearly in love with himself, seperated from the fact that not everyone on our island is similarly impressed with either his act or his antics.

Donald Trump may come to the beach for the money, and his ilk for the glitz and glitter. The rest of us find refuge on the sands in search of an ephemeral peace, an afternoon's serenity, and that escape from the day-to-day grind that the sand and surf -- not to mention a reasonable priced burger or hot dog -- offer.

The State of New York should stick to its guns on every issue, from permits to aesthetics, and the County Assessor -- who has been called worse by better -- should be applauded for making every effort to see that local taxpayers don't get ripped off.

You tell the Donald where he can put it, Harvey. And Donny, when you come out to Nassau County, you act like a gentleman, or don't bother coming at all!
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Trump Irate Over Rules for Restaurant on Ocean

WANTAGH, N.Y., Dec. 6 — Donald J. Trump exercises his usual restraint in describing Trump on the Ocean, the 100,000-square-foot restaurant and catering hall he is building at Jones Beach State Park. It exists at “the best corner of Jones Beach,” or, for the more citified, at the “57th and Fifth of Jones Beach.”

That may be, though there are complaints that Mr. Trump has come up with an odd mixture of Palm Beach aesthetic and Atlantic City commercialization.

For right now, the building is simply waiting.

Mr. Trump began planning the restaurant, his first project on state land, in 2006. During the last year, the undertaking has been marked by wrangling over such things as the size of his name on the facade and environmental permits. And the wrangling has led to sporadic outbursts: Mr. Trump has railed against government bureaucracy, traded insults with local officials and endured “Dump Trump” demonstrations by nearby residents who say his glossy marketing campaign cheapens an iconic public amenity.

No sooner did Mr. Trump begin the foundation for the restaurant, on the site of the old 49,800-square-foot Boardwalk Restaurant, than he had to stop work. Officials told him he needed additional variances and permits from the state to build a basement.

“It’s just ridiculous — I’ve been waiting for three weeks to build,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “You don’t let us start a construction job and then tell us later, ‘By the way, we need more permits.’ My pile driver gave up three other jobs to start this and now he’s calling me asking why he can’t start.”

But Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said Mr. Trump was aware of the necessary permits and that the contract required him to comply at his own expense.

“The Trump Organization does have lawyers, contractors and engineers that are familiar with these types of permits,” Ms. Larrabee said. “This was all in the contract, that they’re responsible for all permits.”

The vast new hall, which Mr. Trump says will cost more than $30 million, is to include a formal 350-seat restaurant as well as space for catered events accommodating 2,000 people, officials at the Trump Organization said. Valet parking and concierge service will also be provided.

Not everyone is enthralled. The chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors, Harvey B. Levinson, called Mr. Trump’s project at the renowned oceanfront park, created by Robert Moses in 1929, a “raping of the beach.”

As Mr. Levinson put it, state officials “got blinded by his hairdo” and celebrity status and handed Mr. Trump a sweetheart deal that will shortchange local municipalities about $1 million and indulge the wealthy over the middle class.

“A place that offers $250-a-plate events does not serve the public purpose,” he said.

In turn, Mr. Trump has repeatedly proclaimed Mr. Levinson a self-promoting “loser.”

There is also the clash of the notoriously glittery Trump aesthetic with the public mission and traditional Art Deco style of the park’s two bathhouses and landmark water tower. Mr. Trump agreed to use limestone for the restaurant, but his choice of a polished variety, critics say, does not conform to the general rough-hewn look of other park buildings. “It has a more luxurious look, a softer finish,” Mr. Trump said. “I want it to be gorgeous and they don’t want it to be gorgeous.”

Then there is the clash over the Trump name, which the developer envisioned writ large on the 28-foot-tall building. In one rendering, the name seemed to glisten in letters that were four feet tall. But state officials said the size violated the beach’s longstanding sign limitations and moved to reduce them to less than two feet in height, which enraged Mr. Trump.

“My name adds tremendous value,” he said. “If it didn’t have my name up there, the project wouldn’t even work and wouldn’t be the success it is. We’re signing people up right and left, for weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events.”

Mr. Trump’s deal was negotiated during the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki, whose parks commissioner, Bernadette Castro, is a friend of Mr. Trump’s and who called the project “a gift from God” for her agency.

But Ms. Castro’s successor, Carol Ash, has been less effusive and more stringent in holding Mr. Trump to particulars, including incorporating environmental elements into the design, and redesigning the hall so that restaurant patrons as well as catering clients can enjoy the ocean views. Mr. Trump lamented that Mr. Moses, the imperious master builder, never faced such problems.

“In the days of Moses, you didn’t have all these environmental impact statements and community boards,” he said. “Getting something approved was 500 percent quicker. If you wanted to build Jones Beach today, they’d have you arrested for interfering with the sand movement.

“Listen, it’s a very small job for me, and I have other places to invest $40 million,” he said.

Mr. Trump began marketing the Jones Beach restaurant this summer at Hamptons polo matches, and has already booked events on the assumption that building will be finished by March 2009, though now, he said, he has had to cancel some.

“The state is building up damages,” he warned. “We’re canceling weddings for every day they’re delaying us.”

Ms. Larrabee said the contract “clearly came from a prior administration, and where the new commissioner could get improvements — like making sure it is green-certified or ensure that the public customers will have views of the ocean and not the parking lot — she will make sure they adhere to the contract, on behalf of the public.”

Mr. Trump and his partner in the project, Steven Carl, a Long Island caterer, are leasing the property from the state for 40 years, and must pay an annual rent of $200,000 and a percentage of gross receipts after it has been operating three years.

Mr. Levinson said they were not required to pay local property taxes because they are building on state land, so the local school district and the fire department charged with responding to emergencies at the park will not benefit. Mr. Levinson sees this as unjust and is calling for the state and Mr. Trump to make a payment in lieu of taxes to the village of Wantagh.

Asked about the claims, Mr. Trump said, “He’s an idiot — why didn’t this loser come forward earlier with his complaints?”

For his part, Mr. Levinson responded, “I’d expect to hear that from an 11-year-old, not a sophisticated developer.

“Jones Beach is meant for the middle class and Donald Trump is commercializing Jones Beach,” he said. “I’m sure Robert Moses is turning over in his grave.”
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
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UPDATE: State denies Trump on the Ocean variance

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