Borough President Markowitz has put the breaks on his own controversial $64-million amphitheater that would transform the current concert venue in Asser Levy Park in Coney Island into a major location for big-name shows.
The delay comes after months of intense opposition from some neighborhood residents about possible noise from bigger concerts at the site where Markowitz currently holds his popular summertime music shows.
Officially, Borough Hall said only that the retooled designs for the venue, which has been dubbed the “Potato Chip” because of its Pringles-like roofline, have been “delayed.” But spokesmen for both the Parks Department and the Department of Design and Construction said that as far as their agencies were concerned, the project is still set to break ground this spring.
That said, critics were certain that their efforts had indeed encouraged Markowitz to go back to the drawing board.
“We’re hopeful that this results in a drastically different plan for the park,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, which opposes the $64-million amphitheater at Asser Levy Park.
Opponents did meet with Markowitz’s staff to discuss scaling back the project, which critics say is too expensive and will destroy their quality of life.
“We basically gave them our counter-proposal,” said Al Turk, who represented Temple Beth Abraham, which is one of two houses of worship located across the street. “Sixty-four million dollars is outrageous. How many cops would that buy? It’s too big a theater for such a small area.”
But it’s unclear if the delay is just the calm before a bigger storm: The revamped blueprints apparently call for moving an existing playground in the western end of the park to free up space for an expanded amphitheater, Croft said.
Critics of the proposal say that relocating the playground is unacceptable because it would expose children to more pollution and traffic.
“We’re trying to be good people,” Turk said. “We’re willing to compromise. We’re not outrageous people. But the plan has to be something that works within the community.”
Sea Breeze Jewish Center President Mendy Sontag said that critics remain opposed to radically altering existing park functions, but said there is room for compromise.
“Communication is all we have,” she said. “We’re sticking firm, but everything is negotiable. There is no way that Marty is going to go along with everything we want, and there’s no way we are going to go along with everything they want.”