Downstaged! Asser Levy bandshell a wreck, residents say

Downstaged! Asser Levy bandshell a wreck, residents say
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The music died — and neighbors fear the venue will, too.

Brighton Beach and Coney Island residents say the centerpiece bandshell in Asser Levy Park is falling apart — and blame its disrepair on the campaign that booted Borough President Markowitz’s summer concert series from the space.

The Parks Department said Hurricane Sandy pounded the performance space, and the agency has already removed its shredded canopy and stabilized the structure — but says it doesn’t have the money to renovate the crumbling stage.

“We are making isolated repairs to ensure that the area is safe, but we do not have funding for a full reconstruction,” said agency spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.

Neighbors predict the bandshell will continue to sit derelict until it falls down, since it can no longer host music thanks to the 2010 ruling that stifled the Beep’s Seaside Concert Series. The judge in the case decided that the three-decade-old string of live music shows violated city law by using amplification within 500 feet of two synagogues. Markowitz was forced to relocate his concerts to a vacant lot near the corner of W. 21st Street.

“Why would they spend a dime fixing it, when they made it so you can’t play any music there?” said longtime Brighton Beach resident Joe Armel.

Neighborhood leaders agreed, lamenting the loss of the concerts and the deterioration of the park stage.

“They were a great thing we had here, and we never had much,” said Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association founder Pat Singer. “Asser Levy was a great place to go during the summertime.”

The lawsuit also destroyed Markowitz’s controversial plans to replace the bandshell with a $65 million, 5,000 seat amphitheater — a vision he has since relocated to the Childs Building on the Boardwalk near W. 21st Street.

Longtime amphitheater advocates say that the community should have accepted the original plan — which would have refurbished the greenspace — instead of fighting it.

“Those people had an opportunity to have something new, and they didn’t want it,” said Coney businessman Dick Zigun, self-declared mayor of Coney Island. “Now nobody’s trying to do concerts there any more.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.