Six years after the Boardwalk Café was demolished, the former Jones Beach restaurant has not been replaced and with the proposed "Trump On the Ocean" project stalled in litigation, the wait for a seaside eating establishment in Wantagh continues.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump first mapped out his vision to invest more than $30 million to create a 70,000 square-foot restaurant catering facility in 2006 and had planned to open the three-story facility by this summer. However this vision hit a roadblock when the New York Department of State Review Board rejected the proposal due to the plan's 26,710-square-foot basement, which they said could not be constructed in a flood plain. State Supreme Court Judge Ira Warshawsky ruled in favor of Trump in late 2008, saying the state was wrong in denying a variance for the basement, but with an appeal to this ruling ongoing it is unknown when a shovel will hit the ground.
"Right now we're kind of in a holding pattern," said Ronald C. Lieberman, vice president of special projects for the Trump Organization. "We can't even get the state to sit down and negotiate with us so we can proceed."
New York State Parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee emphasized that a compromise plan was agreed to in late 2008 for a catering facility of roughly the same size but with a more limited use of the basement. However Trump has continued to press forward with legal action for lost revenue while the state has countered with suits over unpaid rent on the property, Larrabee said.
"We stand ready to move ahead with the agreed to plan," Larrabee said.
One of the staunchest opponents to "Trump On the Ocean" has been Patricia Friedman, a longtime civic activist in Nassau County. Friedman is hoping that with Trump's proposal facing a sea of litigation it will convince the famed developer to drop the plan so the site can instead be utilized for a family-style restaurant, rather than a high-end catering hall. She said the Boardwalk Café should be resurrected and could be successful if managed properly.
"That is not [Trump's] park to make it his personal playground," said Friedman, a Garden City Park resident who is running for State Assembly in the 21st district as a conservative candidate for the seat being vacated by incumbent Thomas Alfano (R-North Valley Stream).
"Whatever is built there has to be affordable to the people," she said.