“The work is in progress,” Mayor Gail Coniglio said Tuesday. “It is not complete. It is doubtful that it will be ready for the presidential visit this weekend.”
During weekend visits to Mar-a-Lago, the president has been landing at Palm Beach International Airport and then riding by car to the “winter White House.” The visits require travel restrictions and detours, and have triggered traffic delays.
The helipad will allow Trump to ride in Marine One from Palm Beach International Airport to the island without his motorcade tying up traffic. It would not, however, change Secret Service-mandated road closures around Mar-a-Lago, and the Southern Boulevard Bridge still would be shut down when Marine One is in the air.
A 40- to 50-foot-wide dirt pit, surrounded by bright orange construction posts, was visible Tuesday on the club’s west lawn.
Lead architect Rick Gonzalez of REG Architects has described the helipad as a 50-foot-long, 8-inch-thick, steel-reinforced cement platform. Gonzalez said last month that the helipad would not be functional until late spring or early summer.
The location is 300 feet from any property line and meets the helicopters’ requirement of 75-foot landscaping clearance, according to Gonzalez. Each of the helicopters used to transport the president can weigh between 21,000 pounds and 28,000 pounds, he said.
The town awarded a building permit for the helipad after the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plans last month, said John Page, director of the Planning, Zoning and Building Department. Some neighbors objected to noise that they expect will accompany the large choppers.
The Town Council previously approved a designation for the club to be used as a takeoff and landing zone for presidential business. The National Trust for Historic Preservation also signed off on the project.
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