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Borough President Markowitz’s controversial plan for an amphitheater in a Coney Island park will seize nearly three-quarters of the park’s already insufficient area for active recreation.
The $64-million concert venue in Asser Levy Seaside Park along Surf Avenue between Ocean Parkway and W. Fifth Street will commandeer the vast majority of the two-football-field-sized main green with a large concrete seating area and a gradually sloping lawn that will rise up to 21 feet.
As a result, the active recreation space in the park — currently about 2-1/2 acres — will shrink to less than one acre.
And park users are not happy.
“The park is going to be destroyed,” nearby resident Tamara Starkopd said. “There’s going to be no place for kids to play.”
The city says that it hasn’t decided exactly what kinds of activities will be permitted on the elevated lawn — intended as a viewing area for outdoor concerts — but sports certainly won’t be one of them.
“The elevated lawn isn’t being designed for sports,” Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson said. “It will likely be a passive open space for relaxing.”
That news didn’t go over well with kids who use the field now.
“It’s pretty much the only green space in the area,” added Steven Saperstein who walks his dog Serpico there.
When the field is replaced, the closest similar field will be at Kaiser Park, located on the western end of Coney Island between West 23rd street and Bayview Avenue, about 1-1/2 miles away.
“It’ll be messed up [if they build the amphitheater] because a lot of people play football and stuff here,” said Matthew Ungehaper, 16. Markowitz’s legacy project is now under fire from all sides. Earlier in the process, other opponents rallied against the amphitheater on the grounds that amplified music is not allowed so close to religious institutions, and the venue did not have sufficient public review.
Indeed, Community Board 13’s Beaches, Parks and Recreation Committee will finally discuss the matter next week — in the committee’s first meeting in a year.
Meanwhile, the city has already begun soliciting operators for the proposed amphitheater — ahead of a required Environmental Assessment which has yet to be completed.
Parks Department officials insist that active recreational programming — including everything from a skate park to an ice-skating rink — will still be possible underneath the amphitheater’s roof when concerts are not being staged. But there are no guarantees: The venue’s $64-million pricetag won’t cover the cost of creating those facilities, however.
For now, park users are focussing on the elevated lawn — and its inability to be used as a sports field. The only other green space that park officials say is comparable to the elevated lawn proposed for Asser Levy Park is the High Line in Manhattan — a 30-foot-tall converted freight line where balls, Frisbees and moving objects of any kind are strictly prohibited.
Markowitz did not return calls.
Asser Levy Seaside Park will be discussed by the Community Board 13 Beaches, Parks and Recreation Committee at Coney Island Hospital [2601 Ocean Pkwy between Avenue Z and Shore Parkway in Coney Island, (718) 266-3001] on April 21 at 7:30 pm.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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