Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Trump's Ferry Point Golf Course Taxpayer Debacle Opens


By Geoffrey Croft

Trump Golf Links At Ferry Point Park, located on the former Ferry Point Park landfill surrounded by housing projects near the Whitestone Bridge in the Bronx,  is now open for business - for the rich. 
It's April Fools Day every day for the city's tax payers as b
illionaire Michael Bloomberg's gift to billionaire Donald Trump finally opens today but not before sticking the taxpayers with a reported  $ 269 million dollar bill.
In one of the most fiscally irresponsible deals made during Bloomberg administration the city paid to build the country's most expensive municipal golf course for the billionaire real estate developer. 
The project, one of the Parks Department's most scandal-plagued developments, was 
originally supposed to open in 2001 and cost the tax payers only a few million dollars. 
But the city's cost to build the luxury course isn't the only thing that has skyrocketed since Trump signed the deal in 2013:  Prices to play at the exclusive course have also continued to go through the roof.

Pay to Play

Green Fees. In a further bilking of taxpayers, the city is allowing Trump to charge the public more than three times what is paid to play at other Parks Department golf courses.

The original contract signed by Donald Trump's Ferry Point Partners for green fees in 2013 listed  $100 for a round of golf (Monday-Thursday), and  $125 on weekends and holidays.  He was also allowed to charge non-residents $25 more on weekends without the approval of Parks or the city. 

Since then the sky-high green fees have dramatically increased even further. 
The green fees are now $141.00 during the week and $169.00 on weekends.  For non-residents prices are now  $190.00 during the week and  
$ 215 dollars on weekends. 

Trump is also permitted to increase green fees annually according to his agreement.

Golf carts. And not to miss a trick, golf carts will be rented at a rate of $35 per rider, up from the origianl  $ 25 dollars, and as opposed to $37 per cart at the city's other courses.
Green fees more than three times higher than at Other city courses. 
The Pelham Bay Golf Course in the Bronx for example charges  $ 39 dollars before noon, 
$ 31 after,  and $ 49 dollars on weekends before noon and $40 after.
They do not charge an additional fee for non-residents.

During the anything goes Bloomberg administration the public had been repeatedly assured by city officials that costs would be comparable to other city cources.

"The intention is to keep [prices] in line with other city courses and not charge as premium,"  then Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in 2009,  presumably with a straight face.

The public was originally on the hook for only a few million dollars of the original $22 million dollar project. 

In 2007 however Mayor Bloomberg decided the city's tax-payers should pay for the project after the Giuliani-selected original developer Pierre Gagne's Ferry Point Partners walked away in 2006 because of rising costs. (but not before the city paid them nearly $15 million of the $43 million already spent by 2009)

"It's a mess ... There was a contract entered into long before our administration ... It turns out it was a terrible contract. But that doesn't mean you go criticize the guys that did it because, for all I know, I would have done the same thing. Maybe at that time it appeared to be a great contract," the Mayor said on November 23, 2007 in a now famous quote.

This project is a far cry from the original municipally-minded master plan created by Robert Moses, dating back to at least 1949. That plan called for approximately one-quarter of the 222-acre site to be devoted to golf with much of the rest designated as ballfields and picnic areas.

Trump Golf has committed to a $10 million capital investment to design and construct a clubhouse which is finally slated to open next year after much delay. 

Payments to the City

Trump is required pay the city nothing through the first four years of his 20-year contract. Years 1-4: No Fee. Year 5: $300,000 or 7% of Gross Receipts plus 3% of sublicense gross receipts. By the 10th year, he is required to pay $360,000 or 7% of Gross Receipts plus 3% of sublicense gross receipts. By year 20, he is required to pay the city $470,000 or 10% of Gross Receipts plus 3% of sublicense gross receipts.

The person in charge of the deal is Ronald Lieberman,  Ferry Point vice president of special projects for the Trump Organization and former head of the Parks Department revenue division.  

State taxpayers may also be on the hook, according to the license agreement, as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) and the New York State Department of Transportation are required to build at no cost to the city or to Trump "an exit ramp from the Bronx bound lanes of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge to the entrance access to the Licensed premises."

Several requests seeking  information from the Parks Department were not returned.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - October 16, 2013 -  By Geoffrey Croft

Donald Trump In Sweetheart City Tax-Payer Funded Golf Concession Deal
A Walk In The Park - January 9, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - September 30, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park -  August 15, 2012

A Walk In The Park - February 4, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - December 24, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - August 17, 2009


  1. A really important article. Thank you for all your work.

  2. still need to pratice my swing before head out for play this course