Up the river! New venue for Williamsburg waterfront concert series

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Williamsburg’s waterfront concerts a movin’ on up — up three blocks north on Kent Avenue from East River State Park to appease residents who have complained about unruly crowds, garbage and drug use from the controversial events.

The concerts will now be held on a vacant city-owned lot between N. 11th and N. 12th streets, three blocks north of the park.

“We think this is a better site, has a better impact on residents, and it uses an underutilized property,” Adam Perlmutter, a board member of the Open Space Alliance, which hosted the concerts, told Community Board 1 on Wednesday.

The new location is currently an asphalt parking lot on the east side of the neighborhood’s western avenue, a plot that was once leased by the Sanitation Department before the city acquired it two years ago as part of its plan to build the 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park.

But the park, which could cost several hundred million to develop, has stalled after the city refused to buy its surrounding properties.

But some residents remain skeptical that the new location would cure problems from the concert series.

“They’re still going to have to funnel upwards of 6,000 people into the neighborhood — that doesn’t seem manageable,” said Williamsburg resident Susan Fensten. “And we’re still going to be able to hear it. The era of quiet nights on the waterfront is over.”

Neighbors have long denounced the concerts, blaming the Open Space Alliance for not reducing noise, removing trash and regulating crowds after the final encore.

Fensten even encountered rowdy fans abusing nitrous oxide in front of her house after a Widespread Panic show two weeks ago, though police did not make any arrests.

Open Space Alliance’s Stephanie Thayer defended the concert series, saying she did everything she could to appease neighbors this year.

“We reduced sound checks later, reduced capacity and rerouted exits,” said Thayer. “We want to make this the best possible experience for everybody.”

The concerts began as the famous McCarren Park “pool parties” in 2006, and were a huge success, attracting bands such as Wilco, Sonic Youth, and TV on the Radio.

The shows moved to the East River in 2009 so the city could restore the pool for swimming purposes, but the entertainment remained first-rate. Grizzly Bear, Conor Oberst, and most recently, Fleet Foxes performed this year to sold-out crowds of more than 5,000 fans.

The public can comment on the new concert venue at a meeting of the Open Space Alliance at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center [211 Ainslie St. at Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 963-0830], Oct. 20, 6:30 pm.

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Fred from Greenpoint says:
The East River State Park is beautiful. This new venue is a parking lot. Does anyone think this will matter?
Oct. 7, 2011, 9:16 am
Mike from BK says:
“And we’re still going to be able to hear it. The era of quiet nights on the waterfront is over.” - said local curmudgeon and yeller at clouds Susan Fensten

There fixed that for ya - seriously Susan, you do get you live in a city? And the concerts happen roughly once a month in the summer.......I have stinkin parades up and down Graham Ave ALL SUMMER LONG, and you know what? I accept noise, trash, and the people cuz i live in frikkin NYC - not Idaho.
Oct. 7, 2011, 9:18 am
Roberta from bk says:
Williamsburg has got to be the most obnoxious neighborhood in nyc. It's laughable that people can even claim they moved there expecting it to be quiet. That's like saying you moved to the LES for peace and quiet. It's a disgusting, ugly, loud, graffiti filled neighborhood filled with posers and wannabes.

Oh and the East River State Park is anything but beautiful. It's a patch of dead grass with a couple of terribly sad looking saplings. You ain't seen a real park if you think that's beautiful.
Oct. 7, 2011, 9:38 am
gimme from around says:
bring back Kokies!
Oct. 7, 2011, 12:13 pm
Dave from Williamsburg says:
Keep all that crappy rock music in Jersey or your college dorm room where it belongs.
Oct. 7, 2011, 12:59 pm
Doug from Williamsburg says:
When many of us moved here the Northside was so quiet that on weekends you would find yourself looking out your window in curiosity when a car went by. If someone actually walked by you probably knew them. The grass between the cracks in the sidewalk was 2 feet tall. I guess Mike thinks everyone just moved here. I guess life began when you got here... from Idaho.
Oct. 7, 2011, 2:12 pm
Oh brother from Williamsburg says:
Oh Susan.. Susan Susan Susan. Why do you act like a few nights out of your summer is the end of the world?
And you and I both know- concert or not - Kent Ave is a circus all the time and its not going to get any better.
I bet you were complaining when that area used to just be for hooker and johns too!
Oct. 7, 2011, 2:38 pm
Hans from berlin says:
The more I hear about Williamsburg, the more I don't think I want to move there. The only thing people talk about are drugs, alcohol, noise, ugly buildings, and too expensive restaurants and bars. I'm moving to brooklyn from Berlin and I think I will start to look at other neighborhoods in brooklyn now.
Oct. 7, 2011, 3:44 pm
Michelle from Williamsburg says:
I'm back in this neighborhood after 10 years. I grew up here and my grandmother had a sweatshop that I worked in during the summers and weekends ... on Kent St. Yes, it was the home of the hookers, junkies and starving artists... change is good people. Trust me... this is becoming an amazing and diverse urban community. Maybe this new spot will become interesting too while longtime residents can enjoy a peaceful nights sleep. Hans, not everyone in the Burg is angry and bitter. I hope you'll rethink your move. (Psst, we have a lot of existencialists here... hence the negativity and fear of oncoming doom... don't mind them.) Although, if you do come to Brooklyn you better have a thick skin because it still radiates hardcore opinion and strong language... We are loud in BK, all night long.
Oct. 9, 2011, 7:14 am
VoiceOfTruth from Vilhelmsberg says:
Please Hans do move anywhere but Williamsburg. Take your Kratwerk music and little leather leiderhosen and move to Park Slope or some other neighborhood filled with terrible people.
Oct. 10, 2011, 3:03 pm
greed from coney island says:
there are lots of people who run responsible public art programs,
open space alliance is the problem here, they are greedy self serving idiots who only care about making money to pay their salaries, and stephen thayer is the worst of them all, she hold a parks department job as a district manager and draws a fat salary from open space alliance.

If they had put some of that filthy money into noise abatement and security maybe the neighborhood wouldn't have gotten piss off.
Oct. 10, 2011, 5:16 pm
sucios from williamsburg says:
you yoyos (hipsters) make me sick. my family is been leaving in this neighborhood for 45 years. 12 years ago none of you would of even think to come around here! now with the fancy restaurant, stores, and bars you think you own the neighborhood. get the —— out of here. dont forget that the only reason you guys started to come here was because of the cheap rent and distance from the city.
this is... and always will be a latino neighborhood. if you dont like it... stop ——ing and MOVE THE —— OUT.
Oct. 11, 2011, 10:22 pm

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