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Borough President Marty Markowitz is reacting angrily this week to opponents who want to block construction of his new $64 million amphitheater at Asser Levy Seaside Park.
Branding critics as “naysayers” Markowitz accused those opposed to the 8,000−seat amphitheater with exploiting the proximity of two area synagogues to further their aims.
“I’m a Jew,” Markowitz told this newspaper. “I don’t like the idea of the anti−[crowd] that wants to stop the park − they’re using the synagogues as their way of stopping it. That’s what they’re doing. They’re using the synagogues.”
The leaders of both the Sea Breeze Jewish Center located at 311 Sea Breeze Avenue and Temple Beth Abraham located at 301 Sea Breeze Avenue, however, charge that concerts at the new amphitheater will, in fact, disrupt their services.
“There is a 500 foot law in New York City that prohibits magnified sound,” Temple Beth Abraham President Al Turk said. “Is he [Markowitz] above the law?”
That law prohibits amplified sound within 500 feet of religious institutions, schools or courts when they are active.
“We are not using the synagogues,” Sea Breeze Jewish Center President Mendy Sontag said. “We have services every night and every morning.”
According to Sontag, his congregation worships just 304 feet away from Asser Levy Seaside Park.
“As a Jew Mr. Markowitz should know that Jews pray several times a day,” said Ida Sanoff, a vocal Markowitz critic and galvanizing force behind the effort to block construction of the new amphitheater.
“This is not just about the synagogues. The synagogues are just a tiny piece of this thing. There’s no public oversight on a project that is bigger than Radio City Music Hall, and will be holding concerts four months out of the year right outside people’s bedroom widows.”
Opponents of the amphitheater say they are gathering signatures on a petition and will take the borough president to court in order to defeat his plans.
“You get sued for everything,” Markowitz said. “Bring it on, no problem. Bring the lawsuit on, what can you do? Whenever you try to build there are naysayers there.”
State Senator Carl Kruger called Asser Levy Park one of the most neglected parks in the borough and said that any improvement to the “dustbowl” is a “step in the right direction.”
“Marty’s plan for the amphitheater has some sizzle to it,” the state senator said. “At the same time I can understand why the community is upset over it. I sympathize and I hear them, but I think that they’re misreading it.”
At press time New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia and State Assemblyman Alec Brook−Krasny had not responded to requests for comment.
“Our elected officials are dead,” Temple Beth Abraham secretary Zena Beiser complained. “They owe each other favors, it’s like a brotherhood. They haven’t reached out to the neighborhood. They’re trying to sweep it under the rug. They’re destroying a park that people use and love. On a beautiful day it’s filled with people.”
Markowitz insists that the his plan will only add to Asser Levy Seaside Park’s luster.
“Take a look at that park today,” he said. “It’s a dustbowl. It’s used very rarely other than the shows that I put on Thursdays and some others concerts on Tuesdays the place is virtually empty.”
Through his actions the borough president says that Asser Levy will be restored and become a prime venue for great entertainment during the summer, as well as a park for use throughout the year.
“There will always be critics, what can I tell you?” he said. “There’s not a project in Brooklyn that is not contentious. Let them yell. Let them do anything they have to do.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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