Landscapers alone must exit island in case Trump visits

Mar-a-Lago has been named the “Winter White House” by President Donald Trump. Photo: Robert StevensMar-a-Lago has been named the “Winter White House” by President Donald Trump.
Photo: Robert Stevens

Mar-a-Lago was envisioned to serve as a winter retreat for American presidents, and it’s finally fulfilling its purpose. In the process, however, landscapers appear to be getting the short end of the stick.

When President Donald Trump and his wife arrived at Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, Feb. 3, for the first time since his Jan. 20 inauguration, traffic was at a standstill as the Secret Service mandated road closures on South Ocean Boulevard.

In an effort to alleviate traffic jams, the town of Palm Beach released plans that will be in effect until May 1.

The email alert informed residents that during rush hours, eastbound and westbound traffic will be given preference and they are encouraged to use Royal Palm Way, Royal Poinciana Way, and Southern Boulevard. Ambulances have been give alternate routes and businesses have been encouraged to advocate carpooling and adjust employees’ schedules on Friday so rush hour isn’t as intense.

Also as part of the new mandates, landscapers are now required to cease all work and leave the island at 3 p.m. on Fridays, regardless of whether the president is expected to visit.

“The intent is to develop a consistent and predictable routine so the impacts to traffic on the Fridays he is here is kept to a minimum,” the Town directive states.

It is unclear why landscape maintenance firms have been singled out. No other industries have been instructed to leave the 16-mile-long island on the off chance there is a presidential visit.

It seems ironic, too, as the estate’s 20 acres of lawn and gardens obviously don’t take care of themselves. The crew that cares for Mar-a-Lago will likely be exempt from the temporary ban since they are in-house employees.

Mar-a-Lago opened in 1927 and was willed to the U.S. government by Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1973. President Richard Nixon preferred the Florida White House in Key Biscayne, and by the time Jimmy Carter was president, it was decided the $1 million in annual taxes and maintenance costs was too expensive. The Mar-a-Lago property was returned to the Post Foundation.

Trump purchased the property in 1985 and since then transformed it into a private club. He added amenities such as a pool, tennis center and croquet courts.

“Whether they love me or not, everyone agrees the greatest and most important place in Palm Beach is Mar-a-Lago,” Trump told The Washington Post in 2015. “I took this place and made it incredible and opened it, essentially, to the people of Palm Beach.”

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