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February 6th, 2005, 12:01 AM
February 6, 2005

King of Beaches Gets a New Title


Robert Moses' Jones Beach water tower and the Wantagh Parkway, seen from under one of the bridges he built low to thwart buses.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/j.gifONES BEACH STATE PARK, the architectural and recreational triumph conceived by Robert Moses in the 1920's and widely recognized as the grandest public bathing facility ever built in this country, is about to become officially historic.

On Wednesday, Bernadette Castro, the commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, designated the 76-year-old park, its 2,413 acres and six miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches for a listing on the State Register of Historic Places.

Ms. Castro simultaneously requested that the National Park Service place the park on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park service will almost certainly approve the request, giving Jones Beach, a gigantic regional amenity that over the generations has drawn an estimated 500 million visitors, a level of recognition that had strangely eluded it long after its overarching historic importance became clear. It would become one of more than 4,400 New York listings on the federal register, most for sites far less widely known or visited.

The state and federal listings would also encompass the roadways Moses built to connect the park to the mainland and make it accessible for anyone with a car. Sections of the Wantagh, Meadowbrook, Southern State, Ocean, Bay State and Loop parkways nearest the park are included.

Once the park is listed, the state government and nonprofit groups will have greater access to federal grants for historic preservation projects. State matching grants and federal tax credits also become available.

State officials are hoping for a surge of support for maintaining and restoring the park and its bathhouses, buildings and landscaping to the high aesthetic standards of its original design. Ms. Castro and park officials have plans to create a friends-of-the-park group that would enlist park patrons and others in meeting these goals.

"We are already restoring much of what was originally there when the park opened," said Ms. Castro, who lives in Lloyd Harbor. "The listings will set the tone for future stewardship."

Ms. Castro said that a first-ever master plan for Jones Beach, with initial financing from a $100,000 state grant, would create an inventory of the park and establish maintenance guidelines to preserve the original, heroic scale of Moses' Beaux-Arts design and Moorish, modern and Art Deco architecture of Ohio sandstone and Barbizon brick, mixed with eclectic and whimsical touches. Nautical themes including mahogany boardwalk railings, now replaced by aluminum railings, and trash barrels disguised as ship funnels and still in use at the park, conveyed to visitors the feeling of being on an ocean liner.

Preservationists said the listings and the master plan came at a time when Jones Beach needed to be seen in an historic context. "The most important thing is the management plan," said Charla Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, a nonprofit group in Cold Spring Harbor. "It determines not only how basic maintenance will be done but also ways of caring for buildings so they don't lose important stylistic details."

In a report for the society in July, Alexandra Parsons Wolfe, a preservation consultant, said that many details had been lost, particularly during the 1970's and 1980's, because crucial decisions were left to park administrators and employees with no mandate to preserve the park's original design.

"Much of what made the park special has slowly and insidiously disappeared due to maintenance and improvement procedures that failed to fully recognize the numerous components that contribute to the park's significance," the report said.

The report cited a series of missteps, including installation of cheap outdoor lighting fixtures to replace decorative originals, the misuse of Art Deco-style stone planters as trash barrels, a stripping away of crucial landscaping and flat, featureless aluminum frame replacement windows on the West Bathhouse, architecturally among the most important buildings in the park. The report also noted the loss of major design elements, including reflecting pools on Ocean Parkway west and east of the Jones Beach tower.

Taken together, the report said, these and other changes had "seriously compromised the fundamental character of the park."

"The park is all about the details," Ms. Wolfe said in an interview. "Having a master plan gives you a better success rate in keeping them. It's very clear and it's in your hands. You know what you are supposed to do and it can be as detailed as you want it to be."

The report pointed to a Friendly's restaurant sign posted outside the West Bathhouse as a jarring example of the kind of commercialism Moses, who banned concessionaires from the park, would never have allowed. His vision, Ms. Wolfe said in the report, did not include the "aesthetically incoherent results of commercialism."

John Norbeck, the regional director for state parks on Long Island, said the reflecting pools could not be restored because they were a traffic hazard and failed to meet federal and local highway standards. He also said there were no plans to restore mahogany railings on the boardwalk because of the cost and the high maintenance demands of constant refinishing.

But J & B Restaurant Partners of Ronkonkoma, which signed a 10-year food concession contract for Jones Beach last year, said it would remove the Friendly's sign. "That sign will never be visible again," said Gregory F. Alagna, the company's director of operations.

Ms. Castro said she was aware of the report and had acted on some of its findings. She mentioned the repair of a clock on the West Bathhouse and a $50,000 project to restore a mosaic map of Long Island at the north end of the central mall. "I think the park is wonderful," she said. "I don't feel there is any reason for alarm at all."

Mr. Norbeck said that commemorative wooden benches, canvas awnings and trash barrels with the park's original crab emblems have also been added. Laser-cut replicas of original, whimsical directional signs with comic figures in silhouette have also appeared on walkways.

Mr. Norbeck said preservation projects in the park were constrained by cost. Jones Beach receives a portion - parks officials said they didn't know how big - of the $33 million annual state appropriation for all state parks on Long Island. (An additional $2.6 million annually from parking fees, $415,000 annually from concessions and more than $3 million in concert proceeds are plowed back into the park.) "We have tried to save as much as we could," he said. "But Moses had an unlimited budget and everything was hand-made and custom-designed."

Moses, the first head of the Long Island State Park Commission and an immensely powerful non-elected public official for four decades, visualized Jones Beach in the mid-1920's as a place where city dwellers with cars could come for a day in the sun.

But the sheer grandeur of the park's design and of the high quality materials used to build it, mixed with lighthearted signs and an architecture that weaved in the suggestion that it was a place for wholesome fun, made Jones Beach an entirely new kind of park. It was also the first major park in the country to recognize the primacy of the automobile.

When the park opened on Aug. 4, 1929, it was an immediate success. Expansions and more building followed, even as the Depression set in.

But Moses' direction that overpasses on the Southern State Parkway be too low for buses - a design that also became part of the later Northern State Parkway - coupled with a permit system in the park's earliest days that made it difficult for buses to park at Jones Beach even when they got there using older roads gave Jones Beach a Jim Crow taint. In his book "The Power Broker," Moses' biographer, Robert A. Caro, recounts that Moses kept temperatures low in the bathhouse pools because he believed blacks could not endure the cold water and would stay away.

Park attendance has declined from more than eight million in 1991. George Gorman, the director of administration and operations for state parks on Long Island, said that in the past several years annual attendance was steady at about six million.

As Jones Beach moves toward historic status, some preservationists are urging that the state ask the federal government to designate it as a national historic landmark, a step above the national register. "It is a site really of national if not international significance," said Ms. Bolton of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.

But the state will not seek the higher status "That may be a consideration down the line," said Catherine N. Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the state parks department. She said additional documentation would be needed.

Only about 3 percent of the 78,320 listings on the national register are also national historic landmarks, a designation made by the Secretary of the Interior upon the recommendation of the National Park Service for sites deemed to have national significance and exceptional historic importance.

More than a tenth, or 252, of the country's fewer than 2,500 national historic landmarks are situated in New York. The list includes the Adirondacks State Preserve, the Brooklyn Bridge, Carnegie Hall, the Erie Canal and the Empire State Building as well as lesser-known sites like the John Brown farm and gravesite near Lake Placid.

On Long Island, the list includes the First Presbyterian Church in Sag Harbor, also called the Old Whalers Church; Fort Corchaug and the Old House in Cutchogue; the sloop Modest and the Rudolph Oyster House in West Sayville; the William Sidney Mount House in Stony Brook; the Jackson Pollock House in East Hampton and the Fort Massapeag Archeological Site in Oyster Bay.

Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, the home of Theodore Roosevelt, is a national historic site, a designation that requires approval from Congress and the president. The Statue of Liberty is a national monument, a presidential designation.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 22nd, 2005, 11:59 AM
Isnt there a beach on Staten Island that faces the Downtown skyline? If so, what is the name of it?

May 23rd, 2005, 08:35 AM
I don't think so. The only SI beaches I know of are on the lower bay facing the ocean. There are 2 federal and 3 city beaches on the stretch from the Verrazano Bridge to Great Kills.

Sailors Snug Harbor Park and the North Shore Esplanade face Manhattan.

May 23rd, 2005, 09:13 PM
What do you all consider to be the best beaches IN NYC? I found Coney Island to be somewhat dirty.

May 27th, 2005, 12:26 AM
how about the far rockaway beach? I think it's pretty good.

May 27th, 2005, 09:54 AM
jones beach- art deco





May 30th, 2005, 12:05 PM
What do you all consider to be the best beaches IN NYC? I found Coney Island to be somewhat dirty.
How so?

Two rules of thumb:
1. Stay away from beaches the day after heavy rains. Though all NYC sewage is treated, combined sewage outflow (CSO), where storm runoff overwhelms the treatment plants, and raw sewage is dumped into area water.

2. Stay away from beaches on a Monday. People are slobs.

I think the entire stretch of Rockaway has the best, and most dangerous, surf in NYC. Sand quality is good at the Coney Island beaches, and at the Rockaways. Rockaway has more marine life coming ashore, so there are more birds feeding, and more seashells. The western end (Riis Park) has a more natural appearance than Coney, and the far west toward Breezy Point (Ft Tilden Beach) is left in its natural state - no swimming.

We find the cleanest and dirtiest beaches

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Swim at your own risk. Water contamination at several local beaches is enough to give holiday revelers a sinking feeling.
A Daily News investigation of 10 popular seashores found three were infested with potentially harmful levels of E-coli and other fecal germs.

The nasty pathogens are evidence that human or animal waste is finding its way along local beaches. And while the levels aren't enough to shut the beaches down, they are enough to possibly sicken small children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

Three of the dirty-water offenders were Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey, Orchard Beach in the Bronx and the South Beach shoreline on Staten Island in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge.

"That's disgusting," said mom Jennifer Koscinski, 32, as she frolicked at Point Pleasant the other day with 2-year-old daughter Kimberly and 8-month-old son Ryan.

"This probably would make me not want to go in the water unless it changes, especially with my kids."

Top honors for the cleanest water went to Far Rockaway beach in Queens, a favorite for sun worshipers and surfers but infamous for its nasty riptides.

Brooklyn's Coney Island beach posted the second cleanest water sample, slightly edging out water from Georgica Beach in the Hamptons — a tony private seashore lined with celebrity-owned mansions.

"It just goes to show, the rich people don't get all that's good in life," joked 45-year-old Kesma Hart of Ozone Park, Queens, as he enjoyed the Coney Island waterfront with his sister.

The News collected separate 4-ounce samples of sand and water from the 10 area beaches on May 18 and 19. Metro Group, an accredited environmental lab in Long Island City, Queens, tested the samples on May 20.

According to Metro Group, every sand sample came up clean, with no meaningful traces of E-coli or other coliform bacteria.

Water results were murkier.

The chemists said the acceptable level of bacteria in ingestible water is 500 colony forming units (cfu) per milliliter.

Point Pleasant and Orchard Beach both had potentially harmful levels of bacteria, the chemists said, posting cfu counts of 10,000 each — 20 times higher than the acceptable level.

South Beach posted a 1,000 cfu — twice the acceptable level.

"These aren't red flags, but they warrant more testing," said Metro Group director Colin Frayne. "Would I take my child to these three beaches? Probably. But I'd be a bit careful about allowing them in the water."

"I'd let them paddle around, but I wouldn't want them putting their fingers in their mouths."

Frayne said the levels probably aren't harmful to healthy adults. But seawater with a bacterial count of 10,000 cfu can cause stomach problems in kids, the elderly and sick people if ingested accidentally, he said. "Those three beaches need to be taken care of by authorities to kill the E-coli and other harmful organisms," said Pragnesh Kansupada, the chemist who conducted the microbiological analysis.

"It's nasty out here," said Staten Island resident David Simonds, 22, as he fished Thursday on a dike at South Beach. "I've seen condoms and tampons floating in the water....I guess it's pretty bad for the people who swim out here. I wouldn't go swimming out here."

Authorities in New York and New Jersey took issue with The News' test, arguing it was just a single, one-day snapshot prone to anomaly. They said carefully calibrated daily and weekly averages are what matter most.

"We tested five beaches in the Point Pleasant area over two days starting May 23, and the results were well within the standards," said Elaine Makatura, spokeswoman at the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. "The water is safe for beachgoers for the weekend."

City officials, meanwhile, said they're not surprised Orchard Beach was the worst in The News probe since it's already on the list of "wet-weather advisory" beaches — meaning it's routinely closed after heavy rains.

"All city beaches have been tested over the past month for [fecal] bacteria," said Health Department spokesman Andrew Tucker. "Orchard Beach was sampled on May 24 for [fecal bacteria] and results were well within the recommended levels for swimming."

Of the sand samples taken at the 10 beaches, Long Beach in Nassau County won first place for harboring less than 1 cfu of pathogens.

Dirty-water offenders South Beach and Orchard Beach also came back squeaky clean, with bacterial levels under 5 cfu.

"They're excellent really," Frayne said. "They're perfectly okay for sitting and walking and barbecuing."

The dirtiest sand came from Georgica Beach, a private East Hampton treasure where dogs are permitted on the sand after 6 p.m. But with a bacteria count of 85 cfu, Georgica's sand is still considered safe, Frayne said. Surfers at Rockaway Beach said The News' investigation would not have deterred them from getting wet even if the Queens water had come back filthy, instead of very clean.

"[New York] has a reputation for being dirty. But that's never worried me," said surfer Mark Evans, 41, of Williamsburg. "I try not to drink the water, so it doesn't bother me at all. I'm having too muc

January 31st, 2006, 12:03 AM
In the New York City borders, there are penty of beaches in all the boros except Manhattan. Staten Island on the south and east coast. Brooklyn has Coney island and the less crowded Brighton Beach. Even the Bronx has a massive beach called Orchard Beach sitting pretty in Pelham Bay Park. Its not Ocean, but still salt water of the Long Island Sound. My oppinion, they are all dirty, but they are all we have. The best in city borders i think is Breezy Point in Queens off the Rockaways. Not too crowded, not too dirty. Best in the area not in NYC, Sandy Hook in Jersey just off of Staten Island and Robert Moses Beach east of Jones Beach. They are worth the extra traveling time

September 28th, 2006, 12:13 AM
On the Ocean, a Trump Deal

ON PAPER Rendering of planned restaurant.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/23/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/24licol.html?ref=nyregionspecial2)
September 23, 2006

The Island

Sitting at a table overlooking Bethpage State Park’s vaunted Black Course, Steve Carl, a small man with shoulders permanently frozen in an Ed Sullivan hunch, is not too shy to disclose that he spent $10 million out of his very own pocket to renovate the dilapidated clubhouse that was the pride and joy of Robert Moses when it opened in 1935. Now it is Mr. Carl’s pride and joy. Even if New York State owns the whole spread.

“Public-private partnerships are where it’s at,” he said.

Mr. Carl confesses to being no golfer but considers himself one heck of a caterer. His Carlyle on the Green (yep, his surname brands the product), which operates out of the majestically restored clubhouse at Bethpage, is booked solid on weekends through 2008.

This East Meadow lad has come a long way since breaking into the event business 14 years ago as Carlyle Kosher Caterers. Now, after winning the bid to work his magic at another Robert Moses gem, Jones Beach, he is expanding in a big way. Too big, in fact, for him to pull off solo. To build a $40 million catering and restaurant establishment in the footprint of the historic and, alas, defunct Boardwalk Restaurant, Mr. Carl needed a partner.

Who to turn to? Call it kismet that his all-time hero, Donald J. Trump, partook of Carlyle on the Green’s amenities in May of last year while accepting an award for being a generous friend to the state’s parks. Mr. Carl mentioned his Jones Beach deal. Mr. Trump revealed that he, too, had fond memories of wading in the surf and prowling the boardwalk there as a kid. So it was a done deal.

Well, not quite. “He checked me out a hundred ways from Sunday,” Mr. Carl said. Mr. Trump is into details.

Mr. Carl is positively delighted to take responsibility — or the heat, depending on one’s opinion of Mr. Trump’s impact on landscapes — for the Trumpification of Long Island. The new place, a three-story extravaganza with forever views (maybe) of the pristine ocean, will be called Trump on the Ocean and is expected to be operational in time to give the fathers of summertime brides in 2008 a real bang for their buck.

It represents Mr. Trump’s first venture on Long Island, and with him aboard, mahogany, marble and gold-plating are a given. “There is nothing like it anywhere ,” Mr. Trump said, weighing in by telephone. “It is unprecedented.”

The location, he added, was too rare to pass up. “There is no such thing as a building with 25-foot windows hovering over the ocean,” he said. “And this is good for Long Island. What was there was in terrible disrepair. It was crummy.”

As for the costs, estimated at $40 million to build a showplace that belongs to the state, $200,000 annually to the state for the duration of the 40-year lease, as well as a percentage of the profits to the state, “It was a big job for Steve, but it’s not a big job for me,” Mr. Trump said.

And as for critics who complain that Mr. Trump and Mr. Carl should pay property taxes on a facility they will build from scratch but not own, rules are rules. Concessionaires on state property are exempt from property taxes.
Mr. Trump vehemently opposes, and is crusading against, a wind farm of 40 turbines that has been proposed for about three and a half miles offshore.

“Even environmentalists are divided: Some like it, some are repulsed, and the ones who are repulsed are right,” he said. “I’m not a big believer in ruining landscapes.” Or in having the views from Trump on the Ocean sullied.
Not to belabor the obvious, but naming the place Carl on the Ocean was never an option.

Mr. Carl takes the credit. “I told him, ‘I’ve got it, I’ve got the name: Trump on the Ocean.’ And he said, ‘I like it.’ I realize his name has much more clout than mine. I’m very content letting Donald handle the spotlight. It is my pleasure to put his name on Jones Beach. Ten years ago when I was asked who I would most like to emulate, I said Donald Trump, and today I’m his business partner.” Awesome.

The emulation is not confined to business. Mr. Carl, just emerging from his second divorce, notes that Mr. Trump is sailing along on his third marriage: “I haven’t caught up to him yet.” It does not, however, include hair. Mr. Carl’s is mousy brown and generically combed. “I’m not trying to duplicate the hair,” Mr. Carl said, “but I like his style in deals.”

Bernadette Castro, the state parks commissioner, champions the partnership to the point of hyperventilation. “Jones Beach is not your normal beach,” she said. “Donald Trump fits right in. He only knows one way to do something, and that’s five-star, because his name is everything to him, it’s his marketing tool. Jones Beach is Robert Moses’ greatest legacy, and he would embrace the arrival of Donald Trump.” Don’t forget Mr. Carl.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

November 28th, 2006, 11:54 AM
Displeasure with Property Tax-Exempt Status of "Trump on the Ocean"

... not everyone thinks the new project is right for the South Shore and especially not for the Wantagh School District, who will be out of $1.4 million a year in additional property tax revenue, from a for-profit business on state land.

. . .

“The practice of allowing for-profit entities to operate in public state parks without paying any property taxes must come to an end,” said Assessor Harvey Levinson, chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors. “The private catering facility does not serve a public purpose and the governor and state parks commissioner should not be selling the state’s tax exempt status at the expense of homeowners who struggle to pay some of the highest school property taxes in the country.”

. . .

The previous facility [former restaurant] did not pay any tax revenue to the Wantagh School District. Still, Assessor Levinson believes legislators should pass legislation to require the state to compensate the Wantagh School District for property taxes revenue not paid at Trump on the Ocean.

. . .

“Donald Trump has never been shy about placing his name on his many real estate holdings,” stated Assessor Levinson. “Hopefully the state lawmakers will make every effort to make sure that the Trump name is placed on a check made out to the Wantagh public school district for his fair share of property taxes.”

Above excerpts from:

Governor Pataki announced last April that Donald Trump had given a gift to New York State: 436 acres in Putnam and Westchester Counties for a new state park. Oh, but look at what Trump got in return for his gift!

April 26th, 2007, 07:03 AM
April 22, 2007

State gives Trump a day at the beach


He planned to call it "Trump Palace on the Ocean."

Bernadette Castro told him she didn't like that name.

He saved its best ocean views for his $300-a-plate catering clients.

The Spitzer administration has sent his architects back to the drawing board to let ordinary restaurant guests see the Atlantic, too.

But Manhattan real estate mogul Donald Trump has negotiated what could be the most generous parks concession contract granted by the state of New York since the days of Robert Moses -- an unusual 40-year lease, lower lease payments, and borrowing power no other parks concessionaires are granted -- according to a Newsday analysis of state leases.

"Trump on the Ocean," for which ground will soon be broken at the site of Jones Beach State Park's old Boardwalk Restaurant, will put the Trump brand on 71/2 foot monuments at the heart of the historic park Moses viewed as his greatest achievement.

Trump and his partner, Long Island catering impresario Steven Carl, expect to do $1.5 billion in business over the 40-year term of the lease, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Law after the contract won final state approval in December.

Former Gov. George Pataki lauded Trump on the Ocean's "array of unique dining opportunities" for park patrons last fall, which will include both an informal terrace for al fresco meals and a more formal indoor dining room.

But as a business proposition this would be first and foremost a catering hall, drawing 85 percent of its sales through weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and corporate events after it opens late next year. Its indoor and outdoor restaurants will account for 5 percent, with 10 percent from a nightclub Trump and Carl plan to operate.

4 times bigger than original

The state believes a restaurant can't survive financially on that windswept beach site unless it is combined with a year-round catering hall. Building plans show Trump on the Ocean will accomplish this by expanding to almost four times the size of Moses' original 1936 structure, lost to a fire in 1964.

"You have to build a great building sometimes to do something great," Trump said in an interview Friday. "We're doing a building that will be superior to anything in Jones Beach, old or new. There will be nothing like this in the United States."

Though Trump on the Ocean's architect Hawkins Webb Jaeger has worked closely with the state to design a stylistic echo of Moses' original structure, preservation advocates now say they fear it will be simply too big, skewing the carefully balanced symmetry of a park that has just been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's all just so anathema to this idea of this getaway that's about restorative activities, health and quiet recreation," said Alexandra Wolf, director of preservation services for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, who wrote a letter of concern to acting parks commissioner Carol Ash last week.

Ash's predecessor, Castro, who advocated for tapping the vitality of the business sector to strengthen public parks, considered Trump on the Ocean "like a gift from God."

State expects to make $74M

Without risking a penny of taxpayer money, New York is presiding over a $25.5 million renewal of a central feature of Moses' masterpiece, replacing a state-built 1968 modernist structure that few seem to remember fondly.

What's more, New York expects to get $74 million out of the deal over its 40-year duration, which it estimates would be about a quarter of Trump on the Ocean's net profits, and the caterers also will set aside 3 percent of their revenues to pay for ongoing refurbishments. From the moment it's built, the building will belong to the state.

Earlier this month, Trump bet The Hair and won millions for charity in Detroit, when his handpicked fighter felled the Samoan Bulldozer before 80,103 screaming Wrestlemania fans. Here on Long Island, he may have done better, judging from several unusual aspects of the contract:

Trump on the Ocean's 40-year lease term required special legislation. Only one other parks contract, the Maid of the Mist boat ride at Niagara Falls, has a term that long. Sponsors of the original bill, passed before Trump became involved, argued that a longer lease term at the Boardwalk Restaurant would attract bigger capital investment.

Trump on the Ocean has the lowest lease payments, on a percentage basis, of any big state parks contract. For the first three years after opening, it will pay New York an annual base rent of $200,000, less than 1 percent of the $70 million Trump and Carl expect to bring in. In years 4 to 6, they'll pay the base rent plus 2 percent of sales, amounting to about 2.7 percent of the take; and for the rest of the first 25 years, the base rent and cut of revenues is projected to be 4.7 percent of sales.

By comparison, Xanterra Parks and Resorts is paying 6 percent to run the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs. Steven Carl pays 10.25 percent of his catering and restaurant revenues at Bethpage State Park and J&B Restaurant Partners pays 15 percent at its concession stands at Jones Beach and Robert Moses state parks.

Park officials justify the lower payments by noting the high cost to build and run Trump on the Ocean -- and the lack of any guarantee on its revenues.

Trump on the Ocean has been granted another privilege unique for the Parks Department: It can use its lease with the state as collateral for unlimited borrowing, to cover not just most of the construction cost, but also operating expenses, documents show.

Trump projects expenses will total $1.2 billion over 40 years. The state comptroller wanted to limit their borrowing to the cost of construction, but Trump and Carl were adamant and prevailed.

Leasehold mortgages are generally less palatable to governments because investors aren't risking their own money and can too easily walk away from unsuccessful projects, said Hempstead Industrial Development Agency director Fred Parola.

The state justifies this clause in the contract by noting Trump and Carl must put in $11 million of their own capital before they can borrow against the lease.

Anyone who believes Trump is getting a sweet deal, state officials say, ought to consider that his group was the only bidder. Carl says it's because it takes a unique combination of skills and patience to build and run a state-owned catering hall. Other developers suggest the paucity of rivals points to a weakness in the catering market. Look at the recent failure of the venerable Huntington Townhouse, they say.

Looking at the figures

"I play to people's fantasies," Trump famously said in his 1980s bestselling book, "The Art of the Deal." "People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts."

A little Trump hyperbole seems to be in play at Jones Beach, as a peek inside the state's files makes clear.

Though he has called this a $40 million building, he and Carl plan to spend considerably less -- about $18.5 million in construction costs. Another $7 million would go to furnishings and design and other costs. Records show that by the time Trump entered the picture, Carl had not only won the bid but had fully developed the business model, building design and cost estimates for a hall he planned to call "Carlyle on the Ocean."

The state advertised for bids in January 2004. Castro, the sofabed heiress whose tenure as parks commissioner was marked by a drive to attract private investment, had pushed for a more creative approach for some signature properties, hoping to draw entrepreneurs willing to improve on the dreary institutional offerings state parks had delivered since Moses was pushed out in the 1960s.

Moses, the public-works titan who treated Jones Beach as the summer capital of his political empire, built the first restaurant in 1936 for $300,000 and gave the no-bid contract to a concessionaire who lavishly entertained Moses' guests as thanks for easy terms, according to Moses' biographer, Robert Caro.

When the original restaurant burned in 1964, Moses commissioned a modernist $1.5 million replacement from architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, awarding it to the same concessionaire for a lease so low -- $18,000 a year -- it didn't even cover the cost of construction, Caro wrote.

Other concessionaires followed. The state demolished the decaying structure in 2004.

"The previous people had a terrible building there -- terrible!" Trump said Friday. "It was a brick nothing and it wasn't of quality, and in addition it wasn't operated well. Nobody would have held their wedding there."

But though Castro's office sent out 298 solicitation letters to drum up interest, it got just two proposals in March 2004, from Carl and the Riese Organization. That national hospitality company offered to build a much more modest $2.5 million facility that it expected would do $3.5 million in business, with revenues split evenly between catering and the restaurant. But Riese dropped out of the bidding a month later after it was passed over for the other Jones Beach contract, the fast-food concession, which produced $4 million in revenues last year.

Fixed up Bethpage clubhouse

Carl was thinking much bigger from the get-go. "I expect this to be the largest-grossing facility on all of Long Island." he told state officials in 2004.

The onetime principal of Carlyle Kosher Caterers of Great Neck who had gone on to Oheka Castle and Eisenhower Park's Carltun on the Park, Carl scored a career breakthrough with the 2000 state contract to rebuild and refurbish Bethpage State Park's decaying clubhouse.

He added a ballroom that has boosted revenues and won high marks for the quality of the food, while keeping golfers happy with their own informal restaurant at another end of the building. Carlyle on the Green grossed $10 million last year, but Carl needed bigger quarters.

It would have to match or beat Long Island's high-end leviathan, the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, which holds 1,500 people or more. Jones Beach, he told the state, could handle that.

So while the Boardwalk Restaurant had grossed an average of $1.6 million annually before being torn down, Carl projected revenues of almost 10 times that amount.

"Carlyle on the Ocean" would be bigger, too: almost three times as tall as the main roofline of the original, and at 98,000 square feet, more than five times as large.

Catering guests would arrive to valet parking and sweeping views over the Atlantic from a chandeliered ballroom upstairs. Restaurant goers, by contrast, would get a "cozy" room with a low ceiling downstairs, with a less dramatic vista.

Carl said he was just testing the waters with this design. Coming just as the park was being added to the National Register of Historic Places, it met little enthusiasm from the state's own historic preservation staff.

By the time it had been reworked for its May 2006 environmental assessment, the cost had risen to $18.5 million and it had been whittled down in size to a basement and a single story of dining space, like the original.

"I understand what I have to do to make everybody happy," Carl said back in 2004. "I'm going to make everything work for everybody."

But with just one floor of dining space, there would be only one full-on view of the Atlantic. That was reserved for the catering guests. The two restaurant spaces were set farther back and on the east and west sides of the building, looking mainly eastward toward the shrubbery along the parking lot or westward toward passersby on the central mall.

Though the state reserved final control over the design of the building, it had no objections to this layout pending last spring, when it announced Carl as the next operator of the Boardwalk Restaurant.

Only then, Carl said, did he reach out to Donald Trump. He had been a fan for a long time, naming the "Apprentice" star his "fantasy lunch partner" in a 2000 Newsday article. He had admired the way Trump rebuilt Central Park's Wollman Skating Rink, a job bungled by New York City. He got his chance for face time last summer at a reception honoring Trump's donation of parkland to the state.

"I couldn't do it alone," Carl said. "I needed somebody that would understand the striving for quality that I stand for -- a level of style and standards."

Trump sees possibilities

Donald Trump's developer father had a family membership at the private Atlantic Beach Club to the west, where cabana boys set out the chairs and bring the drinks. But Trump said he visited Jones Beach often as a teenager, to socialize, and got to know it "very, very well." He saw the possibilities in Carl's project.

They agreed Trump, the builder, would build the facility and he, the caterer, would run it. Sources give contradictory reports of their ownership split; neither of them is saying.

On Aug. 30, Trump filed articles of organization for a limited liability corporation called "Trump Palace on the Ocean."

He seems to be the only one associated with this project who really liked that name. Carl said he delicately resisted.

His architects pointed out that Moses' Jones Beach structures have always been known as "castles" in the sand, not palaces. Some state officials blanched and others laughed at the thought of that word, with its connotations of gambling and luxury, being attached to this Progressive-Era civic tribute to ordinary working people. Sources say it finally fell to Castro to tell Trump it was a nonstarter.

"Bernadette did not like the word 'Palace' because it indicated things she didn't like for the site," Trump acknowledged. " ... I was a little surprised, frankly. I have a Trump Palace in New York ... and I have one in California. It's a great name, but the vast majority of people surprisingly felt that the word 'Palace' wasn't as good. ... I went with Bernadette."

Castro declined to comment for this story.

Carl has found Trump easy to work with. "He says, 'Normally, I want to change things, but this time I don't,'" Carl said of their meetings to review the plans. "He's not micromanaging this business, to be quite frank with you."

But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of building, Michael Russo, the Hawkins Webb Jaeger architect who has developed the building plans, said Trump has shown both expertise and delight in the fine details.

"He asked, 'What are you looking to put on the floors inside?' Russo recalled. "I said we'll probably put limestone and marble. He says, 'I have this great marble that I love,' and he gave me a piece of it."

The stone was Breccia Oniciata, a delicate banded marble that Trump had used at 40 Wall Street, a 1930 landmark office tower. "It was sepia, and it worked great," Russo said.

One aspect of Carl's plans did change more dramatically, though: Carlyle on the Ocean's original 40-year revenue projection of $828 million became Trump on the Ocean's $1.5 billion. Carl said that had less to do with the marquee value of the Trump name than it did with his staff's ability to develop a more profitable business plan as they honed their building layout.

New parks chief's agenda

The Jones Beach deal was one of the last major moves of Castro's tenure as commissioner. Her replacement, former Nature Conservancy state director Ash, has a somewhat different agenda. Ash, who most recently headed the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, has put combating global warming and improving parks infrastructure at the top of her priority list. Soon after taking office in January, she let Carl and Trump know the building plans had to change.

"We wanted the public restaurant to be facing the ocean so the public -- which is what we are -- has the benefit of looking at the ocean as they're sitting there with either their hamburger or their grilled cheese or their Bloody Mary," she said in an interview Friday.

So a new set of plans was drawn up that raised the restaurant to a level half a story above the catering rooms. It will still be set further back, so that the roofline along the Boardwalk remains no higher than it was in the 1960's restaurant. But on a clear day, restaurant patrons will now be able to gaze a little further out to sea than catering hall guests.

Still, the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities told Ash last week they feared what the scale of Trump on the Ocean will do to the visual balance of Jones Beach, a "recognized masterpiece of planning, design and engineering" and a "site of global importance."

For one thing, there are those Trump on the Ocean signs. A Friendly's sign was removed from the West Bathhouse two years ago after SPLIA called it an "eyesore" that was "grossly inconsistent" with Moses' noncommercial aesthetic, which intentionally forbade private concessions.

Now, SPLIA is bemoaning the 71/2-foot-tall monuments bearing the Trump brand that will greet motorists along Ocean Parkway at the heart of Moses' mall. Eight more wall "Trump on the Ocean" plaques will adorn the building, along with "directional and informational signage" on roadways.

SPLIA says it is most unhappy about the dramatic expansion Trump plans for the parking lot in front of the restaurant, "which will dramatically impact the vista Moses intended for the park by replacing a large sweep of green space with an area dominated by paving."

Ash said she values SPLIA's input -- but it comes too late. The signs and site plan were set in contractual concrete after a lengthy review process, including a May 2006 public hearing for what was then Carlyle on the Ocean, which the preservation group didn't attend.

"The time to have said this was during the public hearings, a while back," Ash said Friday. "The contract is the contract ... My ability to change things now, according to the kinds of things they were concerned about, I don't have the ability to do that."

Russo said he has poured himself into the job of sensitively honoring the spirit of Moses' original design.

"It's been a monumental task to figure out all the considerations," he said. "It's the walker, it's the diner, it's the patron, it's the bride, it's the park official -- everybody. This is a facility for everybody."

There are other lingering questions for those who are passionate about the park's history and future. Was such a long lease really in the state's best interest? If Trump and Carl borrow more than they can repay, whose name will wind up on that monument sign?

But Carl said any worries about restaurant goers being treated like second-class customers is misplaced. After all, he said, the restaurant is his prime marketing tool for the catering facility. "If they don't come there to see what the place is, how are they going to know?"

Trump on the Ocean's namesake says it will command the largest section of oceanfront for a facility of its kind anywhere in the country.

"It's going to be a very important thing for Long Island, and it's going to be a very glamorous thing for Long Island," Trump said. "This is really a tribute to Robert Moses. He would be very proud of this."

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.


July 8th, 2007, 12:15 PM
Nassau assessor wants Trump to pay

eden.laikin@newsday.com (eden.laikin@newsday.com?subject=Newsday.com%20Art icle)
June 6, 2007

While state law says Donald Trump doesn't have to pay local taxes on the catering facility he's building at Jones Beach, Nassau County assessor Harvey Levinson thinks he should.

"The private luxury catering facility does not serve any governmental use and the taxpayers should not be subsidizing a celebrity billionaire," Levinson said.

But Trump, in an interview with Newsday, said what Levinson is "asking for is ridiculous. He should have spoken out before the state made the deal, not once the deal was signed and the construction started. Where has he been for the last three years? He ought to be ashamed of himself."

On Thursday night, Levinson will appear before the Wantagh School Board to try to gain public support for new legislation that would force facilities built on state land, as Trump on the Ocean will be, to pay local school and property taxes.

For months, Levinson said he has called Trump's representatives to ask the billionaire to pay a yearly sum to the Wantagh school and fire districts. He even wrote a letter asking Trump to consider making a one-time payment to the community in lieu of taxes.

Trump, he said, never responded.

"We're going to build a facility the likes of which Long Island has never seen and we have this guy calling up after the deal was struck in public forum saying, 'Would you be willing to pay millions of dollars in taxes?'

"Anyone in their right mind wouldn't even respond," said Trump.

Over the 40-year lease, the facility will pay $200,000 a year in rent to the state, and after three years a percentage of revenue every year, according to the agreement. Supporters also say the project would produce significant sales tax revenues.

But Levinson said area residents still would be losing out under the "sweetheart deal," and he wants state lawmakers to enact a law to force facilities leasing state land to pay local taxes, if they do not serve a valid public purpose.

Trump said Levinson can't force him to revise a deal that has already been negotiated with the state. The $40-million project should be complete in about 18 months, Trump said.

Levinson said that when he found out about the deal, he tried in vain to stop state officials from approving the lease.

He said Wantagh would get at least $1.4 million a year if the Trump business paid taxes. He said he'd like Trump, and his partner in the facility, Steve Carl, to give a total of $500,000 a year to the Wantagh school and fire districts.

Levinson said he hopes that Wantagh residents who hear him tonight will contact their state representatives.

But it's unlikely that Assemb. David McDonough (R-Merrick), whose district includes Wantagh, will be swayed. He has praised the state's agreement with Trump.

"It's going to generate millions in sales tax for the state and Nassau County," McDonough said.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.