Schumer Cannonballs Into Pool Party Negotiations

Senator Chuck Schumer hopes to make a big splash in Williamsburg this summer.

Amid the tense and at times bullish negotiations between JELLY and the Open Space Alliance this past winter, all parties involved have reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the return of the JELLY Pool Parties to the East River State Park in 2010 for an eight-concert series.

“Summer in Brooklyn without the free JELLY Pool Parties simply would not have been the same and I am beyond thrilled to see that they will return in 2010,” Schumer (D-New York) said. “I have truly been inspired and energized by the enthusiasm behind these outstanding concerts and am proud to have worked so hard on behalf of concert-goers everywhere to see that they return. I can’t wait to ride my bike this summer to the East River State Park to rock out at these concerts once again.”

According to several sources close to the negotiations, relations between the for-profit concert promoters, JELLY, and the nonprofit parks advocacy group, Open Space Alliance, became contentious over the course of the 2009 concert season. At issue were concerns over the cost of liability insurance and equipment in the state park and the price of ticketed events to offset the costs of sponsored shows.

“I think the fact that they are negotiations means that there are differences, but that’s normal,” said Rachel Gordon, Regional Administrator for NYS Parks. “You can’t have negotiations if people are agreeing. There are differences that need to be resolved.”

Last September, JELLY invited representatives from Senator Chuck Schumer’s office to assist with talks for renewing the 2010 season. This week, JELLY, OSA, and the State Parks Department, which manages East River Park (Kent Avenue an North 8th Street), reached an agreement.

“We had been involved since the beginning of the negotiations and (Senator Schumer) is very interested in being involved again next year,” said Julie Halpin, a spokesperson for Senator Schumer. “On our end, we were working on a solution, we got to one and we’re happy with that.”

In the end, both JELLY and OSA are moving forward. OSA Chairman Steve Hindy said that the organization was “grateful that Senator Schumer has taken an interest in the Williamsburg waterfront shows,” while JELLY co-founders Alex Kane and Sarah Hooper thanked OSA and state Parks and “especially to our great Senator Chuck Schumer, who went above and beyond to see the free shows continue for a fifth straight year.”

Several sources confirmed that the tentative agreement will contain a provision for OSA to pursue booking ticketed shows with a portion of the profits to be donated to New York State Parks. At this time, JELLY and OSA have not announced the 2010 Pool Party lineup and are still in the process of booking artists for their summer concert series.