De Blasio’s offer to rid NYC of Trump’s name could cost $ 30 million


New York City’s attempts to part ways with Donald Trump have turned into a comedy of errors – one that could end up sticking taxpayers with a not-so-funny $ 30 million bill.

After the January 6 Capitol riots, Mayor de Blasio vowed to rid the city of Trump. Aiming to become a hero for progressives, on January 13 the mayor said he would withdraw long-standing concession contracts from the Trump organization to operate the historic Central Park carousel, Wollman and Lasker rinks in the park. , and the Trump Ferry Point golf course in the Bronx.

“This president has committed an illegal act, he dishonored himself, he will no longer take advantage of his relationship with New York City,” de Blasio told reporters. The city then decided to take Central Park’s contracts away from Trump, even though they would have expired in the spring anyway.

The campaign went south from the start. The effort to start Trump would have closed both rinks six weeks earlier, prompting an outcry from skaters over the premature end of the season. The town hall then reversed course and let the contract run out instead.

In July, the city selected new rink operators, a joint venture between Newark, New Jersey-based Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the New Jersey Devils NHL team, and the developers Related Companies and Equinox. . They quickly increased the rates. A family of four now pays $ 109 to get in, rent skates and secure a locker instead of $ 95 under Trump.

Meanwhile, with no one to operate the merry-go-round, the merry-go-round stood idle throughout the summer of 2021, with the city only using Central Amusement International, the company that operates Coney Island’s Luna Park, for the ride. operate for five years at the end of July. The attraction finally reopened on October 16.

The Wollman Rink in Central Park is under construction and will reopen in November under new management.
Helayne Seidman

The state’s legal battle over the debacle created by trying to kick Trump off the Bronx golf course is far bigger than the cost of skating or lost rides.

The Trump Organization says in its lawsuit opposing the termination that it is entitled to more than $ 30 million in refunds in the event of a deportation. And de Blasio is so focused on anti-Trump revenge that the city could pay for it, despite Comptroller Scott Stringer screaming and calling for a break in the rushed process.

“I just found out about this and I have to watch this and find out exactly what it is about,” mayor race favorite Eric Adams told The Post of the city that could be hung for. tens of millions.

Built on a former landfill that closed in the early 1960s, it took 14 years to develop Trump Ferry Point, which opened in 2015 as the city’s new public golf course – but only because the then-mayor Mike Bloomberg asked Trump to take over the construction and management. It cost $ 269 million to build. Trump added a 20,000-foot clubhouse in 2018 he claims to have cost $ 10 million.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to rid the city of Donald Trump.
Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for the new 42

The city’s February termination notice for Trump’s Ferry Point contract, which had 13 years to go, said it was “because the Trump brand is now synonymous with insurgency against the federal government.” can attract more tournaments.

But the legal documents note that no tournament was ever promised in the contract, just a “tournament quality course”.

In recent state Supreme Court files, the city doubled down on its ruling and told the judge that if it couldn’t terminate “for cause” on the basis of the Capitol uprising, it would use the master key clause “at will”.

This clause comes with a “very unusual” termination fee, Trump’s lawyer told the Post, roughly calculated in June at more than $ 30 million, based on a complicated formula in the contract. “They’ve spared no expense and are proud of these properties,” Trump attorney Kenneth Caruso said of the Trump Organization’s management of the course.

Skaters on the ice at Wollman Rink in Central Park in New York
New York City has canceled contracts with former President Donald Trump’s company.
AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, Dossier

The city, however, says this amount is “contrary to Parks’ accounting so far.”

“I invested several million dollars, all in cash, in this project in order to bring it to fruition, which I did, starting from scratch, in record time,” Trump complained recently in his statement. Save America PAC statement.

“Now, under Mayor De Blasio, he wants to CONFISCE the project to me for no reason and terminate my long-term agreement with the city.

His son Eric Trump added: “New York is rife with crime and homelessness, and people are fleeing in record numbers, but this mayor is focused on using $ 30 million of taxpayer dollars to settle political accounts.

The clubhouse increases income through public meals and events such as weddings and private parties throughout the year, even when the links are closed to “rest” the grass and plantings. That, they say, is to ensure it retains the stamp of approval of famed golfer and course designer Jack Nicklaus, as required by its contract with the city. Still, the next operator plans to have golfers on the greens all year round.

Maya Henning, 18 (with Jacey Hootstein and Serena Sabet not shown in this photo) petition to keep Central Park Wollman Rink open
The city chose New Rink Operators, a joint venture between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.
GNMiller / NYPost

The course is used by many in the community as well as organizations in the Bronx, some of whom spoke passionately during a hearing of the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Panel earlier this month, fearing that the quality would drop under a new operator and that more than 150 jobs would be lost.

The panel nonetheless went ahead with plans to outsource the course to a new Georgia-based operator under a 13-year contract starting in November. The 4-2 vote to approve the change came over objections from residents, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and Stringer.

The Georgian company initially asked to take over, Ferry Point Links LLC, had partnered with the head of a local homeless service provider. Then the City and the Post news site revealed in September that he was in trouble for trading with himself.

De Blasio initially defended Jack Brown, who earned $ 869,000 in 2019 as managing director of CORE Services Group, the shelter provider, but the report showed he had a checkered track record in this regard. which concerns services for the homeless, halfway houses and other non-profit organizations.

former president donald trump
New York’s attempts to part ways with Donald Trump could end up leaving taxpayers with a $ 30 million bill.
AP Photo / Ross D. Franklin, File

It was only then that it was removed from both CORE and the golf contract, and a new entity, Affiniti Ferry Point LLC, was hastily replaced in public notices.

In a scathing rebuke, Stringer called the process a “disturbing model” by the parks department of a “rushed award of a concession deal”, leaving his agency unable to determine “whether the concessionaire selection is in the best way. city ​​interest. . ”

Diaz Jr. said, “One of our biggest concerns remains the uncertain future of the current operator’s employees, many of whom are Bronxites.”

In a statement, Bobby Jones Links, the Georgia-based group that would actually operate the course under the new deal, said it intended to continue with “the high service levels and playing conditions at Ferry. Point”. He also said he would “cut prices by up to 10%” and “employ citizens from all walks of life.” But his city pact requires an additional $ 4 for each turn played.

It also appears that by ousting the former president, the city will leave a lot of money on the table.

So far in 2021, the acclaimed Trump course has hosted 25,220 rounds of golf and grossed over $ 8.2 million – double what was done during pandemic closures in 2020 and 1 million more than ‘in 2018 – and the course is expected to reach $ 10 million by the end of the year.

Now in the seventh year of the deal, Trump’s base rent is increasing every year and has higher percentage rent increases than the Bobby Jones deal. The Post roughly calculated that if revenues increased 5% each year, Trump would pay the city $ 16.2 million through 2035, while Bobby Jones would only pay more than $ 13.9 million, a loss of about $ 2.35 million to the city. If Trump later wins in court, the city will pay Bobby Jones $ 900,000 for “improvements,” such as removing the words “Trump Links” from the field.

Another difficulty in de Blasio’s battle to start Trump is that Ferry Point has the “Signature Design” of legendary golfer Nicklaus, a feature that attracts players from all over the world.

What kind of financial blow would the city take on international golfers if the names of Trump and the Golden Bear were removed from the course?

The city has apparently ignored its deal with Nicklaus’ company, giving it a “veto” over who operates the course.

In another example of Blasio’s administration and the thoughtless attitude of the Parks Department, Nicklaus Companies CEO John Reese said in an Oct. 12 letter to the committee: “We don’t want to. get involved in city politics; However, we are not happy with the prospect of seeing The Trump Organization summarily deleted, ”adding that Park Commissioner Mitchell Silver never responded to a February 16 letter.

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