Seaside Summer Concert Series will return to cramped Coney lot

Seaside Summer Concert Series will return to cramped Coney lot
File photo by Steve Solomonson

Borough President Markowitz’s popular summer concert series, which was booted from Asser Levy Park last year for being too loud, will once again be staged in a cramped Coney Island lot — even though concert-goers have repeatedly panned the spot for being too small for major stars like Aretha Franklin and Joan Jett.

Civic leaders confirmed that this year’s Seaside Summer Concert Series will be returning to the vacant site on W. 21st Street near Surf Avenue this summer — a spot many said was a poor substitute for Asser Levy Park.

“Asser Levy was a much better venue with a much better atmosphere,” said Bay Ridge resident Kelly Graham, who attended the Joan Jett concert last July. “This space [stinks]!”

The W. 21st Street lot includes 5,000 paid seats positioned near a makeshift stage, but only has room for 2,000 free seats in the back — roughly half of what the park at Ocean Parkway and Seabreeze Avenue — which is about the size of a city block — provided. The W. 21st Street lot, in comparison, is about a third of a city block.

The lack of free seating and drab surroundings irked concert-goers from the very start of last year’s concert series.

Most of the complaints came from those who brought their own chairs and blankets and watch the show for free, grumbling that they missed the wide-open spaces of Asser Levy.

“Asser Levy Park was a beautiful and classic location,” said Steven Centonzo. “I miss the grass and picnicking with a blanket.”

The issue came to a head after 1,000 angry fans were turned away from Franklin’s August concert because the al fresco music hall was too small.

Yet supporters say the vacant lot is big enough to accommodate the summer-long music series.

“The spot they’re working with is fine,” said Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal.

The borough president held his Seaside Summer Concert Series at Asser Levy Park every year since 1991, but caused an uproar when he announced plans to build a $64-million, 8,000-seat bandshell there. Congregants of two synagogues abutting the park and other local critics balked at the idea, calling the planned venue a monstrosity that would destroy parkland and overwhelm their quiet street.

Synagogue officials sued to shut the Beep’s concerts down on the grounds that amplified music is illegal within 500 feet of houses of worship. Markowitz settled the lawsuit last year by agreeing to relocate the concerts to W. 21st Street.

Brighton Beach residents who sued Markowitz said they were pleased that the concert won’t come back to Asser Levy Park.

“It’s what the law is all about,” said longtime concert critic Ida Sanoff. “The new location fits in perfectly with Coney Island.”

Seaside concert organizer and promoter Debbie Garcia said the series will move forward, but wouldn’t provide further details — or reveal the lineup for this year’s shows.

Borough President Markowitz hasn’t given up on a state-of-the-art amphitheater, spokesman Mark Zustovich explained.

“The borough president remains committed — financially and otherwise — to a world-class performance venue,” Zustovich said.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.