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Up until now, the leader of the Sea Breeze Jewish Center says that congregants worshiping across the street from Asser Levy Park have ignored concerts that have coincided with the “saddest day” of the Jewish calendar −− well, maybe not anymore.
As animosity levels between Borough Hall and residents living around Asser Levy Park continue to rise this week, opponents of Marty Markowitz’s plan to commercialize the park and replace the existing bandshell with a $64 million amphitheater are digging in their heels and talking about enforcing Jewish traditions that call on the observant to refrain from listening to music during the fast of Tisha b’Av.
“If we wanted to stop him during the holidays, we could,” Sea Breeze Jewish Center President Mendy Sontag told this newspaper. “We let it pass, but we may have to go in and stop him.”
The fast of Tisha b’Av being observed this month commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples in Jerusalem.
As this paper was going to press, opponents of the amphitheater were preparing to hold a demonstration at the July 16 opening of Markowitz’s annual Seaside Summer Concert Series being held at Asser Levy Park on West 5th Street.
Sontag and a small group of Borough Hall−approved supporters were also preparing for a closed−door meeting with Markowitz slated for Wednesday in an attempt to convince the borough president to back off on his dream amphitheater.
Markowitz has preferred meeting privately with Sontag rather than confronting his critics at an open public meeting, as many −− including other elected officials −− have urged him to do.
Opponents say that the popular Seaside Summer Concert Series. now in its 31st year, should remain as is and are calling on the borough president to instead allocate money to improve the park and upgrade the existing bandshell.
Parking, they say, is an “unsolvable problem” that an 8,000−seat amphitheater will only exacerbate.
As it is, Sontag says that traffic is so thick around Asser Levy Park that people have great difficulty traversing their own neighborhood.
Markowitz, however, has visions of Asser Levy Park one day rivaling the Westbury Music Fair, and the Seaside Summer Concert Series continuing long after he is out of office.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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