info 07.10.12

Jones Beach R.I.P.
Every Person in New York

"There are those who hold—the late H. G. Wells was one—that you may cross the world and find no resort to compare with Jones Beach on Long Island's south shore, thirty-three miles from the city.

No other beach or playground offers so much for so little, not even Coney Island, which is called the poor man's Riviera. Jones Beach is immaculate. Its record is utterly clear of drownings. It offers an amazing range of gardens, sports and amusements, but employs no barkers to tempt dimes and nickels out of a weak-lipped purse."

That was Meyer Berger writing in the Times on July 3, 1947.

Sixty-five year later, that incessant barker Donald Trump finally has his hands on part of it, after reaching an agreement with of The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to build a Trump on the Ocean at the Central Mall boardwalk. It marks the end of a six-year legal battle with OPRHP over aspects of the design.

Donald Trump said, "This is a settlement that is good for everybody, especially the State of New York, and will lead to the creation of the finest facility of its kind anywhere in the country. A facility that the late great Robert Moses would have been proud of. Aside from the magnificence of the building itself, and of equal importance, will be the tremendous number of jobs created."

The facility will hold 400 in the restaurant, an additional 1,250 in the catering hall. The Trump organization will invest $24 million (no public funds will be used) and OPRHP expects to receive $13 million in rent, plus "tens of millions" in additional revenue based on gross receipts—over 40 years.

There's no argument that Jones Beach needed a new restaurant (the site has been empty for years) and the new jobs will be welcome. So will the additional funds for OPRHP, with its weak-lipped and tattered purse. The catering hall, in particular, is likely to be a robust revenue stream for Mr. Trump and the Office of Parks' accounts.

Grafting the Trump brand, though, in all its brassy vulgarity, onto the picnic-sweet charms of Jones Beach strikes us as a crude violation of context, taste, and refuge. Can't there be a few goddamn places left without the grubby mark of that braying man?

We'll get through it—New York has survived worse. But we deserve better.

Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for Every Person in New York on Tuesdays in MUG and daily at Jason's site.

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