Handing a win to the Trump Organization, a Manhattan judge has temporarily barred City Hall from ejecting ex-President Donald Trump’s company from a Bronx golf course it runs under contract with the city.
In an injunction Thursday, State Supreme Court Justice Debra James ruled that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration must halt the planned Nov. 14 early cut-off on a 20-year contract to operate the Ferry Point Park golf links while the court decides on the Trump company’s claim it’s entitled to stay.
“It is ordered ... that pending final disposition of this proceeding respondents are restrained from interfering with the petitioner’s use and/or possession of the Licensed Premises,” wrote James, finding that Trump Ferry Point LLC had shown it was likely to prevail on the merits of its case.
A spokesperson for the city Law Department said in a statement: “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision allowing Trump Ferry to continue using the public parkland after termination. We strongly believe the court will ultimately uphold the termination of Trump Ferry.”
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Somos political conference, de Blasio expressed optimism the courts would ultimately rule in the city’s favor.
“We’re very legally confident, really, an injunction happens and that’s not so unusual,” he told THE CITY. “We feel we have an extremely strong case. We have the right to do this. The Parks Department looked at this in great detail. They made a decision. I’m absolutely confident will stand in the end.”
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company’s management of golf courses also factors into a grand jury investigation underway in Manhattan, the Washington Post reported Thursday, examining how the Trump Organization manages its assets.
Sources told the Post that prosecutors in the investigation led by District Attorney Cy Vance recently inquired about the initiation fees Trump’s privately held golf courses charge new members.
The Parks Department and the Trump Organization have been embroiled in a legal battle over the fate of the golf course — sparked by the then-president’s role in encouraging the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to halt the election of President Joe Biden
De Blasio moved to cut off all city contracts with the Trump Organization, including deals to run Central Parks ice rinks and a carousel that have switched to new operators.
That left the Ferry Point Links contract, scheduled to run through 2035. The Trump Organization filed a lawsuit in June to fight Parks’ cancellation of its deal to run the 18-hole links near the Whitestone Bridge — asserting it is entitled to a $30 million cancellation fee and has the right to stay.
Ken Caruso, an attorney for the Trump Organization, told THE CITY in September that the contract cancellation was “a mere pretext that Mayor de Blasio used as a cover for his political retaliation.”
“The city has no right to award the license to another operator,” he said. “The Trump Organization’s long-term license for this property is legally binding, enforceable, and remains in full force and effect.”
Parks, meanwhile, awarded a new deal to an Atlanta golf course operator to take over starting Nov. 15 — despite objections from the city comptroller and Bronx borough president.
‘Associated With a Violent Insurrection’
THE CITY broke news of the new no-bid deal last month and the Parks Department’s unusual choice of a co-concessionaire: a homeless shelter operator whose CEO benefited from steering subcontracts to for-profit subsidiaries under city audit. That company, CORE Services Group, promptly withdrew from the pending deal.
That left its partner, Bobby Jones Links, in charge of the contract to take over the 18-hole course for the remainder of the 13 years left in Trump’s contract with the city.
The city rejected another golf course operator, Morningstar Golf & Hospitality LLC, which had offered payments to Parks more than double the amount Core Services Group and Bobby Jones Links had proposed. Morningstar told THE CITY that City Hall refused its demand to shield it from any Trump lawsuits.
In response to Thursday’s decision, Bobby Jones Links co-founder Whitney Crouse said in a statement: “We knew that the injunction was a possibility. Bobby Jones Links will be ready to assume the contract as soon as we can, but until then, this is a matter between The Parks Department and The Trump Organization.”
Writing Donald Trump and the Trump Organization to announce the decision to end the golf course contract, then-Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said that the then-president’s role in fomenting the Jan. 6 uprising “will cause the licensed premises to be associated with a violent insurrection against the federal government” and would repel tournaments from the Trump-branded course.
James’ decision puts the city’s transfer on ice. She deflected City Hall’s argument that blocking the transfer will cause harm.
“The city respondents argue that ‘allowing [Trump Ferry Point] to continue as licensee beyond the notice termination date will make the process much more difficult for the new licensee and create even more inconvenience and disruption to the members who want to use the golf course or other ancillary facilities, such as catering, during the coming months,’” she wrote.
“In the opinion of this court, such difficulty, inconvenience and disruption do not demonstrate that City respondents will suffer ‘great’ hardship with the issuance of the preliminary injunction.”