Markowitz’s plan to build $64 million Coney Island amphitheater comes under fire

April 22, 2009 at 2:02 am Leave a comment

Borough President Marty Markowitz wants to build a $64 million Coney Island amphitheater across from two synagogues – even though a city law bans amplified sound during religious services.

The law could mean that the glitzy, open-air arena in Asser Levy Park would be barred from hosting concerts on Friday and Saturday, the two biggest moneymaking nights.

Opponents are hoping the glitch could derail the arena – which they argue is too big and would ruin the park.

“What concessionaire is going to take this over if you can’t have concerts on Friday and Saturday nights?” said activist Ida Sanoff, who is leading the charge to scuttle the project.

“How is this thing going to be viable if they can’t run events at the most popular time?”

Officials from the two synagogues, who are against the project, told the Daily News they would oppose concerts at the 8,000-seat arena on Friday and Saturday nights and other Jewish holidays.

“Mr. Markowitz has done a lot of good for Brooklyn, but in this case he is wrong,” said Sea Breeze Jewish Center president Mendy Sontag.

Al Turk, president of Temple Beth Abraham, agreed.

“This would be very disruptive,” he said. “I imagine the sound system would be huge.”

The law, the so-called 500-foot rule, bans amplified sound permits for concerts or other events within 500 feet of a house of worship, court or school when they are in session.

The two synagogues are across the street from the project. Their most important and most attended services are held on Friday and Saturday nights.

Markowitz has insisted the project will be “sensitive to the community’s concerns” – but declined to comment specifically on the law, saying program details have yet to be worked out.

“It’s too early to comment on what is going to take place there when no programming has been set,” said a Markowitz spokesman.

Markowitz has been hosting free concerts in the park on Thursday nights for nearly 20 years in the park’s smaller bandshell. Other groups and politicians also host concerts there each summer.

The Parks Department, which runs the park, said that the NYPD does not issue sound permits in the park on Friday and Saturday nights because of the religious services.

The revelation comes as opposition has been building against the project – which also includes a complete overhaul of the aging park and its bare-bones playground as well as a string of handball courts across Surf Ave.

Markowitz, who is paying for the bulk of the project, argues it will bring a “world-class” concert venue to Coney Island and is a key part of the city’s planned revitalization of the area.

Work is expected to begin in August and finish by summer of 2012.

“This location is absolutely perfect to become something that the community will be proud of,” said Markowitz, calling the site a “gateway to Coney Island.”

“There’s not a project anywhere in Brooklyn that doesn’t meet with some folks in the community opposing it,” he said.

BY Elizabeth Hays
DAILY NEWS

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Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Dive In, Public Waterfront.

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