Jones Beach Needs Plan and Protection
originally published in NY Daily News
January 18, 2008 – by The Associated Press
Robert Moses considered it his crown jewel. Now two preservation groups want to ensure that Jones Beach State Park is preserved as the storied builder envisioned it – a miles-long public oceanfront with the amenities of a private resort.
To that end, the Preservation League of New York named Jones Beach to its list of “Seven to Save” most threatened historic resources Thursday, hoping to call attention to its historic and cultural importance.
“It’s a model for all state parks,” said Alexandra Wolfe of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, which sought to get the park on the list.
Built in 1929, Jones Beach draws some 6 million people annually to its 6-1/2 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach and 2-mile boardwalk.
The park offers landscaped gardens, swimming pools, basketball courts, paddle tennis, shuffleboard, miniature golf, softball fields, volleyball courts, bathhouses and boat basins.
An 8,000-seat amphitheater attracts thousands more with an eclectic mix of concerts ranging from the Allman Brothers Band and Aerosmith to Josh Groban and Britney Spears.
Many original details – from intricately carved wooden bathhouses to a colorful concrete mosaic and a 231-foot-tall brick-and-stone water tower modeled after the Campanile in Venice – have been preserved but are in need of repair or restoration, said league official Erin Tobin.
“It needs extra attention and care, and that’s why we’re saying that it’s threatened,” Tobin said. “If we don’t pay attention to this now, it could be lost.”
The two groups are not opposed to commercial development coming to Jones Beach, but object to the “scope and scale” of a plan submitted by Donald Trump for a $40 million catering facility on the state-leased land.
They also object to a 1-acre parking lot he wants to build south of the beach. Wolfe said the parking lot would go against Moses’ plan to relegate all parking to the park’s northern side.
A message left with the Trump Organization was not immediately returned.
The two organizations want the state Parks Department to create a master plan for the overall preservation of the park. Repairs and restoration are now done on a piecemeal basis.
The groups also want to see Jones Beach designated a state historic park, which Tobin said would give it greater recognition. Jones Beach is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a largely honorary recognition.
The “Seven to Save” list also includes the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga County and the Holy Trinity Monastery in Herkimer County. Four others around the state will be named this year.