Summer simmer: Williamsburg leaders want crackdown on concerts

Summer simmer: Williamsburg leaders want crackdown on concerts
Community Newspaper Group / Andy Campbell

A local panel is going after a popular summer concert series, demanding that the sponsors of the East River State Park jams clean up and quiet down its acts.

Members of Community Board 1 say the concerts, held at the park for the last two years, are too loud and attract overbearing crowds that litter nearby streets with garbage, and that’s too much to bear for people living nearby — some of whom leave town when a weekend show is coming up.

“The entire area is just devastated,” said CB1 member Del Teague. “If you can’t get out of the neighborhood, your weekend is ruined. There are so many people, you can’t walk through the streets.”

Now, the board, which already wants to stop new neighborhood businesses from getting liquor licenses, says it wants the state to clamp down on promoters who let things get out of hand.

“There must be a way to minimize disruptions,” said CB1 member Esteban Duran. “We need to get creative and look at different ways to manage the crowd.”

Duran suggested that regulating the time concerts and ensuring concert-goers leave via Metropolitan Avenue instead of narrower residential streets would be a good start toward solving the problem.

But the concerts’ head organizer, Open Space Alliance director Stephanie Thayer, said there are already scores of police officers on surrounding streets to maintain order during and after concerts, and the stage has already been moved to reduce ambient noise — even though she hasn’t received many complaints.

“We’ve entertained hundreds of thousand of people, raised funding for our parks and received almost no complaints,” said Thayer, who is planning 15 more concerts at the park this summer.

And many community leaders, including Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint), credit the concerts for keeping the park open when state parks officials wanted to close it down. So far, the Open Space Alliance has paid $290,000 to the state — money which is being used to add solar lighting to the park.

“The concert series has helped maintain funding for the East River State Park during these tough fiscal times,” said Lentol.

Concerts have been held on the waterfront since 2009, when the city began its $50-million renovation of its previous venue, the McCarren Park Pool.

And controversy over the series is nothing new.

Open Space Alliance has fought with its chief promoter, JellyNYC, over the concert’s management — canceling shows due to unpaid bills.

And Williamsburg waterfront residents have been simmeringsover the crowds that end up traipsing through the streets during the past two summers.

“When they leave, they leave bottles, cans, condoms, and they urinate on our trees,” said Jane Wolowacz, a N. Eighth Street resident. “It’s impossible for senior citizens to sit in front of the back yard and enjoy the day.”

This isn’t the first time CB1 has gone after the hard-partying neighborhood’s nightlife industry.

Earlier this week, CB1 leaders also proposed a moratorium on all new liquor licenses in the neighborhood — which would curtail the flow of new bars and restaurants into it.