Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending the terms of a 20 year city deal with Donald Trump to operate a golf course at Ferry Point in the Bronx.
Opponents criticize the pending Parks Department contract with Trump because under the agreement he would not have to pay the city any money until it’s been in operation for five years.
Bloomberg said the millions Trump plans to invest in the project is enough for now.
"Golf courses don't make money and he's got to have a restaurant built and a building,” Bloomberg said. “He has to do those kinds of things and I hope he does make money because we need more taxpayers in this city."
In a written statement submitted Monday at the public hearing on the contract, Trump promised to deliver a PGA regulation golf course and money to the city’s coffers.
“The Trump organization is pleased and honored that we have been designated as the operator of the Ferry Point Golf Course. The selection represents a great and unique opportunity for the residents of the city of New York. For the first time New York City golfers will reap the benefits of a world class golfing experience unlike any other,” the statement opened. It went on to say that the Trump Corporation intends to bring championship tour play to the Bronx which will generate needed revenue.
The course is expected to open in 2014. In 2018 Trump would then have to pay the city 7 percent of gross revenue or $300,000— whichever is higher, according to a spokesman for the Parks Department.
Park’s Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, “The city is fulfilling a 30 year promise to the community and completing a project begun by a previous administration by transforming 50 year old landfill into a world class golf-course.”
Opponents of the “sweetheart” deal, however, don’t understand why Trump will not pay the city for the land. Geoffrey Croft, president of the New York City Park Advocates said, “We've seen time and time again this administration giving away our park land for commercial purpose but we now we're supposed to not make money. But apparently that's not the goal here.”
The plan was first announced by then Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1998. Since then the original developer defaulted and the cost has swelled to around $184 million dollars. That includes not only the golf course, but the entire 222 acre Ferry Point development, including the waterfront and community park. The cost increased, according to the Parks Department, as part of the city’s compliance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation standards, such as removing old material from the landfill that’s not in compliance with new DEC standards.
The city's Franchise and Review Board is scheduled to vote on the contract between Trump and the Park's Department next Wednesday.
There are currently13 other golf courses operating around the city.