Borough President Markowitz’s pet project — a major concert venue in Coney Island that would be a physical legacy of his two (and perhaps three) terms in office — crashed into neighborhood opposition from critics who say it will be too big and too loud.
Developing a top-notch performance space to replace the bandshell in Asser Levy Park — home of the Beep’s long-running and free Seaside Summer Concerts — has been a dominant project of Markowitz’s agenda in Borough Hall and touted as “world class” by the Bloomberg Administration for dovetailing with its vision of an invigorated Coney Island.
But now, with the groundbreaking fast approaching for the $64-million Jones Beach rival, critics turned up the volume about the project — which will not go through the city’s rigorous land-use review procedure.
“This is going to destroy the only open space in the neighborhood,” said Ida Sanoff, a former member of Community Board 13. “People talk about the need for a respite to get away from the hustle and bustle, and to relax beneath a tree, but [Markowitz] wants to spend $64 million to put it in the middle of a residential community.”
The pricetag for the venue, whose roof will resemble the shape of a curved potato chip (though Markowitz refuses to release a rendering of it), surged since the project was announced two years ago — at that time it was expected to cost $40 million. Crowds can rock their socks off there in 2012, according to current projections.
Sanoff and other foes have recently increased their pressure to force Markowitz to submit the so-called “Coney Island Center” to a public review.
Sanoff, who is working with NYC Park Advocates to block the borough president’s showpiece, added that loud music will blow out the eardrums of many people who live near the modestly sized park and not just the 8,000 people the ampitheater will be able to accommodate.
But Markowitz’s office said that noise pollution has not been a problem with his 30+ years of summer concerts that has brought hot tickets like Smokey Robinson and Michael Bolton to Asser Levy Park.
“If there had been significant noise complaints over the years, it certainly would have impacted the success of the concert series,” said Mark Zustovich, a spokesman for Markowitz.
Nonetheless, the Beep’s office says it’s drafting an environmental impact statement to study its likely effects — like such as noise or traffic congestion.
In an instance of strange bedfellows, Markowitz’s ampitheater, is supported by Dick Zigun, the founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and the Bloomberg Administration. Both say the bandshell will draw visitors to the area and could contribute to an amusement and entertainment renaissance in the People’s Playground.
It’s unusual to find them in agreement since an abrupt separation last year in which the so-called Mayor of Coney Island resigned from the city agency overseeing Bloomberg’s plans, Zigun emerged as a harsh critic of the city’s controversial redevelopment policy, which is in the early phases of a lengthy public review.