Long Islanders Storm The Beach To Keep The Donald From The Jonses
It got ugly at the public airing of Donald Trump's application to build a basement in the proposed Trump on the Ocean. At least it did for the Donald.
The Donald, after all, is not accustomed to having anything other than his way.
Now, his attempts to turn an unassuming Boardwalk Restaurant at Jones Beach into the Wantagh version of the Taj Mahal -- and to stand on head Robert Moses' vision of a state park of and for the great middle class -- may signal not luxurious catered affairs and high-priced dinners in a palace by the sea, but rather, years of litigation.
While the Donald looks around for people to sue -- and, no doubt, folks to fire -- Long Islanders can be most proud of their efforts to keep Jones Beach a haven for the public, and a retreat from the city life most of us seek to escape as we head down the Meadowbrook and through the Jones Beach toll booths.
The State of New York made the right decision in denying Trump's application. It is only unfortunate that they opened the door to the Donald in the first place. They must have been blinded by his hair!
Donald Trump is now on the turf of Long Islanders, no pushovers they. He's either going to have to act like a gentleman on our fine shores, or pack his bags and head back to NYC, where money, apparently, matters more than maintaining a state park's place in history and in the hearts of Long Islanders.
Clearly, a line has been drawn in the sand!
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From The Long Island Press:
By Tim Bolger
Donald Trump, world-famous developer and star of NBC reality show The Apprentice, has learned a bitter building lesson on LI. On March 4, a state review board denied the controversial variance request to include a basement kitchen in Trump on the Ocean, which would be located in a floodplain. The Jones Beach State Park restaurant and catering hall was scheduled to open on the boardwalk in summer 2009.
Despite his legal team's thorough arguments, there were ominous indicators of the negative outcome of the approximately nine-hour hearing, which heard an appeal of a previous denial of the same request. About 300 boisterous citizens-so many that others had to be turned away-attended this hearing. The meeting started out with a legal showdown between state officials and television news crews over the presence of cameras. And before it began, three members of the review board had recused themselves-without stating why-from the case.
Then there was the hearing's Garden City location, at the Cradle of Aviation Museum's Red Planet Café, which is designed to resemble a similarly difficult-to-build space station looking out on a Mars landscape.
Although Trump himself wasn't present, in a glowing message on the website for the planned catering hall, he stated that the project is "my very special gift to you-a breathtaking new oceanfront venue designed to host spectacular weddings and celebrations." His partner in the undertaking, Steve Carl, who owns the Carlyle on the Green restaurant and catering hall at Bethpage State Park, took a more litigious tone in an interview with the Press, on the day after the variance request was denied.
"We're not going to idly stand by and just take this," insisted Carl, who stopped short of specifying who the duo will sue. He did state, however, that there will be "a number of" lawsuits in weeks to come. He estimated that the team has invested $5 to $6 million on the project.
"As two businessmen who are looking to invest in Long Island, it's terrible that people come out against us on something that we're trying to give to Long Island," Carl told the Press, adding that they "don't deserve to be treated like this."
But since the development is proposed for public land in Wantagh, the two most outspoken politicians against the project-which includes a 25,000-square-foot basement kitchen and office space-were on hand to lend their criticism.
"Jones Beach is the people's beach, yet the people were only asked to comment on a basement, when we should have been involved in this from the ground floor. The public should have been part of the process from the moment the request for proposals was issued," said Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), whose district includes part of the barrier beach.
Denenberg stated that the structure, first approved in 2006, has grown from 46,000 square feet to 76,000 square feet without a new environmental assessment being conducted and with no approval by the U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation. Referring to a problem cited by the board in rejecting the variance, Denenberg noted that there had been no consultation with the Wantagh Fire Department, whose volunteers would have to respond in the event of an emergency.
Harvey Levinson, chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors, reiterated concerns about the facility being approved without having to pay county property taxes or payments to the Wantagh School District or Wantagh Fire District. Levinson also expressed doubts over the safety of about 100 employees who would work in the basement. Trump's lawyers argued that since 1936, a basement on the same spot has survived hurricanes. But opponents responded that current state building and environmental codes allow basements in a tidal zone to be used only for storage.
"Despite his wealth and celebrity status, even Donald Trump does not have the power to stop the ocean waves and sea from flooding his basement," Levinson said.
Supporters as well as opponents of the plan were in attendance. Rich Kruse, founding president of ExecuLeaders, a Deer Park-based business trade association, said, "We need this for Long Island." Kruse added that he hopes to hold Long Island's biggest business trade show at the catering hall. "This is going to put a lot of smiles on people's faces," he said.
For now, the only ones smiling are the opponents, who felt as though they were telling the famed tycoon: "You're fired!"
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Click HERE to read Joye Brown's Newsday column, Tide turns against Trump castle in sand