More than 100 protesters rallied on Sunday in Coney Island to protest Borough President Markowitz’s plan for a $64-million amphitheater to replace the band shell in Asser Levy Park.
The protesters claim that Markowitz’s plan violates city law, which forbids amplified music within 500 feet of religious institutions, courts and schools. Two synagogues are within 300 feet of the planned 8,000-seat theater.
Markowitz has said the amphitheater is necessary not only for his own summertime concert series, but to lure beach band business away from concert venues at Jones Beach and in New Jersey.
“The renovation of Asser Levy Park will only enhance the surrounding community,” Markowitz said in a statement. “Residents will benefit from a new playground, park house and community facilities, in addition to upgrades throughout the park.
“Replacing Asser Levy’s antiquated band shell with a state-of-the-art one will ensure that free cultural programming remains in Coney Island,” he added.
But Al Turk, president of the 45-year-old Temple Beth Abraham, which is on Sea Breeze Avenue across the street from the proposed theater, complained that Markowitz’s amplified sound would violate city law — and ruin the Jewish Sabbath every Friday night in summer.
“Ask him this,” Turk said, “why does he think he’s above the law?”
Markowitz said he is not trying to skirt anything.
“No one is above the law,” he told The Brooklyn Paper in a statement. “As the project moves forward, it will be within the law.”
The amphitheater, called “The Potato Chip” because of its sloped roof, would be part of a larger renovation of Asser Levy Park, which has seen better days. The seating is removable, so that the parkland can be used when concerts are not being held.
That said, civil rights activist Norman Siegel supports the opposition.
“The law says that when the city government plans to change the use of public park land they must go through the land review process,” Siegel said.
“We will fight to make sure that the city and the borough president and the mayor follow the law.”