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Plan would bring new life

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Fans of Coney Island are rejoicing at the city’s commitment to the bright future of “America’s Playground.”

The Coney Island plan is a great start to a new heyday. Along with new amusements, hotels and entertainment, the renovation of Asser Levy Park, and its band shell across the street from the New York Aquarium and one block from the beach and Boardwalk, is another welcome manifestation of this commitment, and fully in keeping with the park’s musical heritage.

Artistic performance is a hallmark of many of our city parks, and music at Asser Levy dates back to the 1880s. Not only the site of the free Seaside Summer Concerts for 19 years, which have brought acts like Paul Anka, Gladys Knight, Hall and Oates and the B-52s to Brooklyn, the park has been part of Coney’s amusement district dating back to the days of John Philip Sousa!

This eastern gateway to Coney Island belongs to us all. In the 1960s and ’70s, community organizer Sidney Jonas held popular concerts here, and for a colorful glimpse into its Coney-style commotion, check out its monument to a 1924 reunion of Teddy Roosevelt Rough Riders, who camped in the park, stayed out late at nearby amusements and hooted and hollered into the wee hours.

As it stands, Asser Levy Park is in dire need of renovation, a woefully under-used dust bowl. Plans promise to make it more inviting for both local residents and visitors, improving drainage, retaining its forest of old-growth trees, creating new walkways and lawns, upgrading its 9-11 memorial, adding a state-of-the-art comfort station and creating a showpiece, handicapped-accessible playground. The seasonal, open-air band shell will host concerts only in warm months, but have community uses all year, from a covered kiddie play area to a winter outdoor ice rink. Possibilities abound!

The vocal, misguided few who oppose the renovation basically want a poorly drained, low-amenity, and under-populated park. But improving the park means making it more usable by more people. We must of course, as Borough President Markowitz has said, respect concerns like those voiced by local synagogues that services are not adversely impacted and local concerns about parking. To that end, the city has assured that programming will not overwhelm the neighborhood, traffic is being dealt with as part of the Coney Island plan, and ambient sound will actually improve, since a new audio system will target sound directly to the audience.

Some may want Coney to remain frozen in time, but for those who seek a better day, the renovation of Asser Levy Park is something we should be celebrating. Yes, there will be more people. We hope so. That’s the goal! This is Coney Island, not a suburban quiet-zone. We badly need this renovated park and bandshell if we are going to save Coney Island — and as a major advocate and spokesman for culture and entertainment, believe me, the future is now.

Dick Zigun is the founder and artistic director of Coney Island USA.

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Reader Feedback

jerry from brighton beach says:
Dick Zigun is just another stooge & puppet for BP Marty Markowitz. The City has given him a building in Coney Island & this is his way of being of supporting a ill advised & unwanted project by the Community , that will result in a poorer qualtiy of life for those who have to live here.
If Mr. Zigun thinks it's such a great project , let him talk to his mentor BP Marty markowitz & build it in Zigun's Amusement area, where they want it.
July 9, 2010, 8:05 am
sal from sea gate says:
From Mr. Zigun's comments I don't see anything about how BP Marty Markowitz ran these concerts for over 19 years without getting the proper Sound Permits. Mr. Markowitz has violated the NYC adminstrativve law & is flouting it now by going to his friends in the City Council, & City Hall to prove Might is Right.
If Mr. Zigun is hot for Marty's Concert Series it can always be produced at MCU BallPark which is used only about 30 days per year.
Mr. Zigun & others want to re-map Asser Levy park as being the Gateway to Coney Island when it is mapped on city documents as being in Brighton Beach. West Brighton Beach to be exact.
July 9, 2010, 8:39 am
Jon from South Brooklyn says:
Dick Zigun is a saint and has preserved and protected the Coney Island that so many Americans love and cherish. And yes, Asser Levy Park is in Coney Island!!! The cranky old, closed minded bigots that resided in the heavily subsidized, mitchell lama housing surround the park must come to terms with the fact that they reside in a major tourism center! This is not Long Beach, Long Island. This is not Boca Raton, FL. It's Coney Island, USA. Moreover, they should cease using the amphitheater as their straw man. Coney Island is changing for the better and Asser Levy Park is just the beginning.
July 9, 2010, 8:45 am
sal from sea gate says:
to Jon : Evidently you can't read a city map. Google it ! Asser Levy Park is in a residential, bedroom community in Brighton Beach.
The street running parallel to Seabreeze Ave. is named West Brighton Beach Avenue.
You are an ignorant man Jon & may I say a bigot. You use codes words like Long Beach & Boca Raton, Fl. to indicate the Jewish faith & mock the Jewish people & ridicule their right to pray in peace & quiet.
You are a shameful human being.
You are not fooling anyone!
July 9, 2010, 9:35 am
Rainbow from Brighton Beach says:
Hey Zigun! Wipe the brown off your nose already! Your non profit gets big bucks from all of the politicians, including Markowitz. You're bought & paid for. Where were you when there was talk of putting this amphitheater at the very center of Coney Island near the parachute jump? If you are so hot to bring Coney back to its glory days, why aren't you fighting to put this amphitheater on some of the empty lots in Coney Island? BTW, people need parks too, not just amusements. And this sucker will destroy the only open green space in a residential neighborhood. And to all of you who think that the amphitheater's opponents are a bunch of folks with gray hair, we are young, working families and we have invested every cent that we have in this neighborhood.
July 9, 2010, 9:36 am
jon from south brooklyn says:
you brought up religion, not I!! fixing up Asser Levy Park is not anti-semantic. and by the by, I'm a jew, but I am deeply troubled by homophobic and racists innuendoes being throw about by those fighting the amphitheater.
July 9, 2010, 10:26 am
sal from seagate says:
to Jon: I was right! You & BP Marty Markowitz are Bagel & Lox Jews. You mock & riducle your own Jewish religion, observances & practices of Jewish law.
July 9, 2010, 10:30 am
funnyman from brooklyn says:
MR SONTAG is right .....its not about religion...its about quality of life..will this project ruin the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood??? i dont think so ..ask the restraunt owner across the street from asser levy , ask the business owners around brighton beach if they will mind the added business. oh yeah and forget about the jobs this project will create construction,security,vendors
ect cetra. who needs the money anyway .... and sorry ASSER LEVY is the gateway to coney island americas playground and frankly at its current state ASSer levy park looks like a war zone ...brooklyn needs bigger and better places for people to visit why go to MSG when you can go to CONEY ISLAND to see your favorite show,conceret,event ... LONG LIVE BROOKLYN


http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/28/dtg_opedanti_2010_07_09_bk.html
July 9, 2010, 11:05 am
sal from seagate says:
to Funnyman : You are not so funny! Marty also promised 400 jobs for the new cruise ship terminal in Red Hook. He got about 20 part time jobs.
When the Keyspan Park opened the businesses there also were to be enriched with customers from the baseball games. DID NOT HAPPEN ! PEOPLE GO TO THE GAMES THEN JUST LEAVE CAUSING THE TRAFFIC JAMS THAT EVEN FIRE TRUCKS OR AMBULANCES CAN'T EVEN NEGOIATE TO GET THROUGH !
JUST LAST WEEK A PERSON DROWNED AT W. 37TH STREET DUE TO THE FACT OF A TRAFFIC MESS FOR EMT TRUCKS TO GET TO THAT PERSON ON TIME !
July 9, 2010, 11:21 am
funnyman from brooklyn says:
@sal ...your insane to suggest that traffic jams caused a death due to drowning...so i quess the lifeguards drove to the beach..w37th ??? isnt asser levy by west 4th???..the baseball park does ok and so do the businesses around them .ever go to peggy oneils after a game ? and yeah jobs will be created how else will they build it? who else will sell food and things? who will secure the area during events? who will maintain the park?
sal you sound like your upset at a project that can generate revenue for a cash strapped city and neighborhood? simple question have you ever gone to one of martys concerts???(be honest)
July 9, 2010, 11:36 am
sal from seagate says:
Funnyman : get your facts straight :The baseball park is losing money. Peggy O'Neils is just getting by. In the fall & winter it's dead there.
The propsed amphitheater will have it's own food court, so the outlining restaurants can fuggetabout getting any patrons after the concerts.
The tax payer will be supporting & subsidizing this venue. The Parks Dept. doesn't even have enough money to put seeds on the lawn of Asser Levy Park now.
The only cash that this project will generate is the cash being put into the electeds pockets. Oh, by the way , when we pay $ 5 or $ 10 a seat at Marty's concerts ( the reserved section) where does this money go & who is accounting for it ? In addition when Marty's little helpers go around with the 5 gallon plastic jugs & people put in a donation of $ 1, $ 5 or $10 or more who's accounting for this money? Over 19 years that's a lot of loot !
July 9, 2010, 12:08 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
@ sal "The baseball park is losing money. Peggy O'Neils is just getting by. In the fall & winter it's dead there." now thats my point...if MCU park was in operation for 365 it would be a money maker and peggy oneils would be getting by alot better..
"it's own food court...." so pretty much what your saying is that when people go out for events like this they never eat out, or shop around the area , come on.
so i quess by your answer you have gone to a concert or two in the past..so did you complain then..why not..oh cause it was free..now you will have to pay and OMG its the worst thing..please get a life .. i will enjoy paying to see and hear concerts by the sea ..cant wait...
and as for that money collected i have no clue ask marty about that ....
July 9, 2010, 12:21 pm
sal from seagate says:
To Funnyman : That's my point , you don't need to destroy a Park for an Amphitheater. Let Marty use the existing MCU Baseball Park,( it's only used 33 days a year), make it a destination for concerts year long & save the city $ 64 million dollars.
I'm glad you agree with me !
Also , I have asked Marty about the money collected but he yet to answer the question.
July 9, 2010, 1:09 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
sal is a spinmaster ....i dont agree with you i dont think they should turn MCU park into a concert hall..
I FIRMLY BELIEVE IN THE NEW AMPHITHEATER.... that park needs a complete facelift..as well as that BANDshell ...you still havnt answered my question!! why are you complaining now..its been going on for almost 20 years ...free concerts right?
now they want to attract bigger and better names and events like school graduations, socialevents fundraising events ,, so its it because of the noise or because now you will have to pay for the concerts?? i await your answer
July 9, 2010, 1:25 pm
Jon from South Brookyn says:
Sal from Seagate,

Are you such a zealot that you manipulate the facts surrounding the tragic drowning Igor Sirota to bolster your case against the amphitheater? Sadly, Mr. Sirota died because he was swimming past dusk where there were no lifeguards present.

You are truly grasping at straws now.
July 9, 2010, 1:42 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
jon whats a matter with you telling the truth ...come on we like half truths, and spin tactics..
July 9, 2010, 1:45 pm
sal from seagate says:
To Funnyman : There's a Doo Wop concert on Friday Aug. 13th at the Ball Park. You'll also get a free ticket to the Cyclones game Aug. 25th. Good deal for you only $ 35.00.
If youu want an 8000 seat venue in your backyard , with over 40,000 people a week coming into your neighborhood with NO PARKING as it is , you are either working for Marty or a complete dunce.
July 9, 2010, 1:47 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
SAL your to much....8,000 seats yet 40,000 people going there ..so what your telling me is that there will be 32,000 standing for concerts...hahahh
spin baby spin ..if you dont like the fact that you live in a heavily trafficed area its simple MOVE.....
.and still no answer...
why are you mad now ? you enjoyed those free concerts for years,, now you have to pay so lets scrap the idea all together..again i say get a life and S.A.D.(heheh)
July 9, 2010, 1:51 pm
Paul from Brighton Beach says:
Dick Zigun is a posseur, phony hipster wannabe. He sold out for the two million he got from the billionaire mayor to fund his half-baked museum freak show. He has no consideration for the thousands of people who live in the high-rise developments surrounding the park. Coney Island is over as an iconic amusement park, Robert Moses saw to that by allowing too much residential development there as well.
July 9, 2010, 1:55 pm
cb says:
I AGREE THAT ZIGUN SOLD US OUT FOR BLOOMBERG AND HIS PERV CLOWN STOOGE MARKOWITZ. They bought him off (using stolen taxdollars!) and Zigun became their lapdog. Disgusting. Arrest Bloomberg and Markowitz. Or watch NYC die futher!
July 9, 2010, 1:57 pm
Max Bialystock from Brooklyn says:
Coney needs more year round retail and entertainment for its residents that will create new JOBS and taxes.

Taxpayer funds should go towards spuring year round facilities, not just seasonal activities which haven't proven to be the catalyst for Coney's redevelopment in decades.
July 9, 2010, 2:19 pm
sal from seagate says:
to Funnyman : Evidently you have not seen the powerpoint on the proposed Amphitheater. There will be 5000 permanent seats on the main area plus another 3000 Lawn seats ( you'll have to pay for those too!)

Don't be a putz for Marty's Vanity Project. HIS DREAM IS OUR NIGHTMARE !
July 9, 2010, 3:08 pm
sal from seagate says:
to Funnyman : The 40,000 comes from concerts 4-5 nights a week @ 8000 seats per night is a total of 40,000 people per week !
July 9, 2010, 3:35 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
@ sal so its pretty much like I said ....its fine and dandy whens its free....but if I have to pay to go see a concert I don't want any concerts...
As for your 40000 you can't lump 8000 * 5 because your claim is congestion that's at one moment not over a week and also according to it would be 8000 * 7
You claim 365 days a year right??? Or is that another spin .......that park is not yours and believe it or not its not even the communities ...its the city's
It has always been a music hub...why not upgrade the venue..
July 9, 2010, 4:41 pm
Rainbow from Brighton Beach says:
Not for nothing, but if you happen to live in the neighborhood, Markowitz's concerts are a nightmare. The buses can't get through. Cars can't get through. Emergency vehicles can't get through. But everyone adopted a "grin & bear it" attitude because it was only 6-7 nights a year. But Markowitz's new plan calls for a year round venue, with a four month concert season & concerts several times a week. The neighborhood just cannot absorb that. Coney Island is an ENTERTAINMENT ZONE. This is a RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY. Yeah it's great if you spend 1 or 2 nights a year enjoying the concerts. But the lives of tens of thousands of people are severely screwed up every time there is a concert. If Zigun is so concerned about saving Coney Island, let him open up his mouth and demand that this venture be built ...IN CONEY ISLAND. But oops! He can't do that! He'll piss off his good buddy Markowitz & the other deep pocketed politicians who fund him.
July 9, 2010, 4:49 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:

Who said that...lol...
"HIS DREAM IS OUR NIGHTMARE !"
July 9, 2010, 4:54 pm
funnyman from brooklyn says:
@ rainbow ...well said ...but still its your choice to live in 9oney island ..just because it will interfere with some peoples lives or out right change it should this project be stopped NO...
Am for total change of coney island ...I wish it was more like AC..instead its only a place to go to during the summer...
@ sal typical..name calling for voicing my opion ..last I remember this is america and majority rules..
The park belongs to brooklyn not brighton beach ...have you seen the PPP its amazing...can't wait to go. There......
July 9, 2010, 6:08 pm
Bruce from Coney says:
Majority rules, 13,000 local residents who dont want this rules its use. The park belongs to us, not you. We, the residents grew up with a park, and we want to keep our park. Go destroy your own park, destroy your own quality of life, not ours.
July 9, 2010, 10:25 pm
Bruce from Coney says:
Vocal misguided few? Does 13,000 plus residents of the people who surround this park mean we are just a few misguided few? Or more likely step one on how to trivialize the competition, diminish their numbers.

Dustbowl? They said the same thing about Central Park years ago, and they still have a open lawn, no one wants to destroy it by building something no one in the community wants. They fixed the dust bowl, made it a green lawn, so why not here?
July 9, 2010, 10:25 pm
Bruce from Coney says:
Everyone remember when Sitt wanted to build condos in the amusement district? It was defeated. Everyone remember the reason why we didn’t want residential in the amusement park zone, because we all knew, create a residential community in a place of public activity, and sooner then later, those residents will shut down the public activity. We have seen this happen over and over again.

Well, this is the reverse, but the end result is the same. Creating a place of public activity right on top of residents. It was wrong in Coney, its still wrong in Seabreeze Park, creating a place of public activity right in a highly density residential neighborhood.
July 9, 2010, 10:26 pm
Bruce from Coney says:
Its also ironic that the same person who questioned the city about how they will deal with traffic and parking, receiving a non answer, is now giving us the same answer, the city will wave a magic wand and cars will disappear from the roads.

The fact is now, on a nice holiday, it can take ½ hr to travel north on West 5th st when they divert traffic from entering Surf Ave.

When Markowitz was questioned about where all those thousands of people who will come to the amphitheater will park, his answer, they will create 150 parking spaces at the aquarium. Thousands parking in 150 parking spaces??
July 9, 2010, 10:27 pm
Bruce from Coney says:
I grew up in this neighborhood; I played in that dustbowl all year long, from riding bikes to riding sleds. Anyone who is for this project, doesn’t live here, never had a family who used this space for recreation.

Yes, Seabreeze Park can be upgraded, but why does it come with a price tag of a unwanted amphitheater? The money being spent on the amphitheater can build something 100 times better then Central Park.

Seabreeze Park dates back to before the Civil War, generations of children played in the open space, Markowitz and his unwanted amphitheater project will deprive our children their only park in the neighborhood.

For those who don’t live here, leave our park alone, go destroy your own park, see how you would appreciate it.
July 9, 2010, 10:28 pm
Dylan from Near Coney says:
Hey Dick, I'm not sure if you noticed something in Coney that could be used. It's okay. It's pretty small to notice. It could be used as a concert venue, but, you know, the park is just so much bigger and better. You still confused about where I'm talking about? Oh, silly me! It's only MCU Park! No big deal!

My god Dick, you really have sold out....
July 10, 2010, 6:52 am
Richie S from Brighton says:
Unlike Mr. Sontag, Coney Island showman Dick Zigun does not live or work in Brighton Beach. No one can find any connection that Mr. Zigun has to our neighborhood so I'm not sure why he was asked to write such a piece for your paper.

Mr. Zigun also seems to be confused about the area he was asked to write about: Asser Levy Park is NOT in Coney Island's amusement district, it is in West Brighton Beach, a quiet residential community. He mistakenly confuses the community of West Brighton Beach with Coney Island throughout the entire article. He based his article on this mistake.

He ignores all of the issues raised by the community, which I guess one can do when they have no connection to it.

A good portion of Mr. Zigun's comments were simply cut and pasted from various inaccurate statements made by Mr. Markowitz. It is usually customary to credit or attribute the original author by using quotation marks. Unfortunately he failed to do this and your paper did not require this. Apparently neither Mr. Zigun, the Borough President, or the Brooklyn Paper realize that Brooklyn people can read and also have internet search capabilities.

If Mr. Zigun intends on continuing to make embarrassing comments regarding this project, he should at least have a basic understanding of the facts. The Brooklyn Paper should also be taken to task on why he is being asked to comment on such matters.

For the people who live in our community we don't need a "new life" and an "eastern gateway to Coney Island, " as Mr. Markowitz and Mr. Zigun are championing. We need Mr. Markowitz to stop holding park renovations hostage by insisting on wasting $64 million dollars to build this amphitheater, and listen to the needs of the community
July 10, 2010, 3:43 pm
Bada Bing from Bay ridge says:
Wy not use and improve the cyclones stadium for concerts? ooops is it some sort of untouchable religious sanctuary for baseball fans?
Is it bad to make the obvious visible... Does the team need the full stadium to train?... no...
Would some religious baseball fans and religious activists complain about it? probably!

So work with what you have, improve it and give a break to progressive people who want to revitalize the boring Coney Island area...
Some people can also allow new things to happen over there because Coney is boring all year long except summer... I do agree with residents on traffic... it sucks... the main road should have been able to get people straight to the board walk by car without all the driving gymnastics and confusions required to get there...
So The Cyclone's stadium : It is bigger, has a big parking lot and is nearby transportation... do an upgrade on it so residents who tend to choke whatever new fun activity that can boost Coney Island can reside in their little retired communities in peace... Have a decent sound system, upgrade the stadium so it is not just a baseball center, for Gods sake there are other sports that would attract more players using a bigger lawn...

The BQE and BELT suck with their daily programmed traffic jams... When tolls push people to go to manhattan to avoid the expensive 2 way toll on the Verrazano it makes you think about the motives of some of the politicians a bunch Vampires sucking on the populations blood...
Public transportation sucks for any event over there except taking the train .... Coney island ave or Ocean ave are sometimes a great relief to the congested Belt...

I am sure some "suckers" would also complain about expanding the use and new size of the cyclones stadium too... Why don't they propose exciting alternatives?

I had Soccer , basket, & Rugby in mind for the expansion... Maybe people over there are too self centered to think like that.. but that would benefit the area and make Coney more appealable all year long for a wider variety of people...
July 24, 2010, 3:07 am
Bada Bing from Bay ridge says:
Do not upgrade Seabreeze for concerts... to many old people around it and unless there is a straight constructive traffic management system in place... and total insulation so no one can come and complain about the extra 10 db they experience and that really bother them.... At that rate the complainers would also make the Westindian day parade disappear from Brooklyn...
July 24, 2010, 3:13 am

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