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8:43 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Fairway To Heaven: Trump Eyes A Golf Course Burial

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 4:54 pm

You might think Donald Trump can buy anything he wants. But at least one purchase has eluded him: Trump wants to be buried on his golf course in Bedminster, N.J.

Even though Trump owns the 500-acre spread, it's taking an eternity for him to get a cemetery built there.

That's because the decision-makers in the tiny hamlet of Bedminster — with its rolling hills, horse farms, wooden-framed buildings and residential estates owned by some of the wealthiest people in America — have objected to Trump's past proposals, worried that whatever is built might disrupt the scenic terrain.

"It's not like Atlantic City in any way, shape or form," says Ed Russo, a consultant for Trump coordinating the plan to put a cemetery on Trump National Golf Club. The club has a Georgian Revival clubhouse, a pool complex next to 17th century farm buildings, tennis courts and a stable. Russo says Trump loves the beauty of the area and the course and has proposed different plans to be buried there over the past decade.

"If you have everything in the world, where would be that place you'd most like to be identified with going forward? His point was, this is a place where people respect each other," Russo says.

Russo has gotten a green light from the Bedminster town council, the first step in a long process of local and state approvals. The current plan now calls for a cemetery that would be for any member of the golf club — who pays about $150,000 to join and an additional $20,000 in annual dues. Trump's earlier proposals for a mausoleum and chapel were turned down. But former town council member Sally Rubin negotiated a deal that will allow 500 graves as long as she doesn't have to see them.

"Who I am to say under what circumstances he should be buried personally?" she says.

Rubin's concern was what could be built on property Trump owns next to the golf club, land that's visible from the road.

"If he wants a mausoleum and he wants to do it for himself and he wants to put that on the golf club proper, I didn't have a problem with that. It's a large piece of property, and he has a lot more flexibility there, but I did not want it on a scenic rural road in our community," Rubin says.

So that means Trump could still put his mausoleum right alongside his favorite fairway, if he can get approval from New Jersey's State Cemetery Board. Rubin says the proposal hasn't been controversial in town.

A sampling of residents outside the local supermarket elicited comments for and against, but no one was taking it all that seriously.

Anne Melitski of Bedminster finds the whole idea of golfers hitting balls off tombstones a bit distasteful.

"I just think cemeteries have their place. You have a golf course, and I don't think elite membership should give you the right to be buried there either," Melitski says.

The golf club is so private and well-guarded that there's little concern that a Donald Trump grave might draw tourists. The proposal drew praise from some high quarters. Gov. Chris Christie's spokesman told the Star-Ledger newspaper that since Trump can be buried anywhere, "I guess we should be honored that he's considering New Jersey."

Copyright 2013 NJN Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wnyc.org/section/njpr/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And we have one more note on the subject of Donald Trump, though it has nothing to do with his taste in presidential candidates. It has to do with something he wants very badly but hasn't been able to buy. Apparently, Trump once wants to be buried on his favorite golf course in New Jersey. The Donald even owns the 500-acre club.

But Nancy Solomon, of New Jersey Public Radio, reports that it might still take an eternity for him to build a cemetery there.

NANCY SOLOMON, BYLINE: The tiny hamlet of Bedminster is one of the places people have in mind when they say things like: I hear there are nice parts of New Jersey. The rolling hills are home to beautiful horse farms, Colonial-era towns with quaint wooden-framed buildings, and residential estates owned by some of the wealthiest people in America. Picture Vermont, not Jersey, and definitely not Donald Trump.

ED RUSSO: It's not like Atlantic City in any way, shape or form.

SOLOMON: Ed Russo, a consultant for Trump who's coordinating the plan to put a cemetery on Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. The golf club has a Georgian Revival clubhouse, a pool complex next to 17th century farm buildings, tennis courts and a stable. He says Trump loves the beauty of the area. He loves the golf course and has proposed different plans to be buried there over the past decade.

RUSSO: If you have everything in the world, where would be that place you'd most like to be identified with going forward? His point was: This is a place where people respect each other.

SOLOMON: Russo has gotten a green light from the Bedminster Town Council, the first step in a long process of local and state approvals. The current plan now calls for a cemetery that would be for any member of the golf club, who pay about $150,000 to join and another 20,000 in annual dues. Trump's earlier proposals for a mausoleum and chapel were turned down.

But former town council member Sally Rubin negotiated a deal that will allow 500 graves, as long as she doesn't have to see them.

SALLY RUBIN: Who I am to say under what circumstances he should be buried personally?

SOLOMON: Rubin's concern was what could be built on property Trump owns adjacent to the golf club and visible from the road.

RUBIN: If he wants a mausoleum and he wants to do it for himself and he wants to put that on the golf club proper, I didn't have a problem with that. It's a large piece of property and he has a lot more flexibility there. But I did not want it on a scenic, rural road in our community.

SOLOMON: So that means Trump could still put his mausoleum right alongside his favorite fairway, if he can get approval from New Jersey's state cemetery board. Rubin says the proposal hasn't been controversial in town. A sampling of residents outside the local supermarket elicited comments for and against, but no one was taking it all that seriously.

ANNE MELITSKI: No. No.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SOLOMON: Anne Melitski of Bedminster finds the whole idea of golfers hitting balls off tombstones a bit distasteful.

MELITSKI: I just think cemeteries have their place. You have a golf course, and I don't think elite membership should give you the right to be buried there either.

SOLOMON: The golf club is so private and well-guarded there's little concern a Donald Trump grave might draw tourists.

The proposal drew praise from high quarters. Governor Chris Christie's spokesman told the Star-Ledger newspaper, since Trump can be buried anywhere, I guess we should be honored that he's considering New Jersey.

For NPR News, I'm Nancy Solomon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.