Borough President Markowitz unveiled a flashy plan for a new “state-of-the-art” performing arts venue in Coney Island last week — but not everyone in the rundown Riviera is cheering.
Last week, Markowitz said the old bandshell in Asser Levy Park should be turned into a $35-million amphitheater to “attract top entertainers” and restore Coney Island’s status as major venue.
The idea drew applause at Markowitz’s state of the borough address last week, but it faces many hurdles before becoming a reality.
“I got some phone calls after the speech from people who didn’t like the idea because a bigger amphitheater means taking up more park space,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager for Community Board 13.
“It is a quiet place now, with benches,” he said. “People use it for dog-walking and their own walking. They get sun. Families go there. Kids run around. [Markowitz’s] plan would change that”
The community board has not come out with an official position on the Beep’s still-budding plan to convert the small West Fifth Street park’s grassy bandshell into a roofed, seaside concert hall.
Markowitz’s timing couldn’t be better, however. Mayor Bloomberg has already poured $83 million into cleaning up the faded Boardwalk. And developer Joe Sitt has spent another $100 million to buy property for a future $2-billion development of glitzy hotels, condos and new theme-park rides.
A spokeswoman for the advocacy group, New Yorkers for Parks, called for Markowitz to reach out to community members before more planning is done. The group recommended that any parkland that is lost be replaced with new green space in the area.
“Brooklyn has the least amount of park space of any of the borough and that makes those few acres all the more valuable,” said the organization’s director, Cheryl Huber.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is working with the borough president on the project, declined to comment.
But days after his state-of-the-borough speech, Markowitz defended the project.
“The Coney Island center will be a state-of-the-art recreation facility for local residents as well as New York City’s first covered, outdoor performance space for concerts and events,” he said in a statement.
“In addition to my hope of making Brooklyn a stop on the summer concert circuit that includes Jones Beach, Westbury, and New Jersey, I will be working with the local community and the Parks Department to ensure that this project works for Coney Island and all of Brooklyn.”