Markowitz: Shuls’ Complaints Over Coney Island Concerts Are a “Shandeh”


president-marty-markowitzLocal shuls and residents in Coney Island, Brooklyn, filed a lawsuit yesterday that threatened to pull the plug on Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s longtime Coney Island summer concert series – along with his $64 million plan to expand them with a new amphitheater.The suit, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, contends that the existing series violate a city law prohibiting amplified sound within 500 feet of religious institutions when they are in session. It seeks a court order to block future concerts.

Two shuls — including Sea Breeze Jewish Center led by Rav Zusha Winner – are across the street and about 300 feet away from the existing band shell used for concerts at Asser Levy Park.

The seaside concert series is set to kick off its 32nd year of free shows – the 20th at Asser Levy – on July 15.

For decades, no one challenged the concerts, but now the shuls and many Brighton Beach residents who reside in the high-rises next to Asser Levy Park are furious over the plan to expand the shows with a new 8,000-seat amphitheater.

“It is very sad that Mr. Markowitz has no compassion for the thousands of people whose community and quality of life will be hurt by his actions,” said Ida Sanoff, a plaintiff.

“We are not against concerts– just not right across the street from two synagogues. We will not stand by idly. A year ago we met in good faith to negotiate with Mr. Markowitz, but all he did was stonewall us. Our borough president is not above the law,” said Al Turk, a vice president at Temple Beth Abraham.

Markowitz, however, fired back, saying, “The show will go on!”

“These popular concerts have been happening for 32 years, since 1991 at this location with the synagogue’s blessing,” he said. “The synagogue’s own members regularly come to the shows.. I never would have thought that in my lifetime a Jewish synagogue would try to take away joy and happiness from tens of thousands of Brooklynites out of spite.

“They are shamefully using religion to hold these concerts hostage in a misguided attempt to stop renovations that will only make this park even better for the community, for nearby residents and families, and enhance Coney Island as a fun-filled destination. They should be ashamed. As we say in Yiddish it is a ‘shanda.'”

The project would replace a 66,000-square-foot band shell already used for the summer concert series with a modern 87,200-square foot open-air amphitheater.

It would be topped by 60,000-square roof that Markowitz’s staff says is shaped like a “hyperbolic paraboloid,” but in layman’s terms looks more like a massive potato chip made of steel and fiberglass and flooded with hundreds of stage lights.

Electronic sound amplification equipment is used during the concerts in addition to sound-checks and rehearsals The suit contends that past shows illegally used electronic sound amplification devices either without the required permit or with an illegally issued permit.

The project is not without community support. It is backed by a majority of Coney Island boardwalk businesses.

Its first phase, to build a new playground, is expected to kickoff this year and be completed by next fall. By late next year, construction would begin on the amphitheater, so it can be finished in 2012. Besides the playground and amphitheater, the project also calls for new bathrooms and other park upgrades.

Markowitz is using $54 million of his office’s capital improvement funds for the project, while the mayor’s office is kicking in $10 million.

{NY Post/Noam Newscenter}


  1. “Out of spite”??? Come on, Marty. You know better than that. Maybe if you’d attend shul once in a while it might give you a better insight as to how your amplified music could seriously interfere with proper concentration during prayers. Would you dream of interfering in that way with solemn church services?

  2. In response to #4 how would you like to have 8000 people on your block .also there is only two thru traffic streets that connect that part of brooklyn with brooklyn ,the traffic jams will be horific.police fire and ambulance will lose precious minutes.where will they park 2000 cars when there isn’t sufficient parking now.what about the noise ,what about the local gang crime

  3. Markowitz himself is a giant shanda. He took the initiative to fly a toeivah flag over Brooklyn borough hall.

    He used to have a Jewish concert as part of his concert series but cancelled it years ago.

    Shame on you Marty. I think you should be retired ASAP.

  4. Chavi Time said: “Would you dream of interfering in that way with solemn church services?”

    What churches hold “solemn church services” until 10 pm daily?
    If some did and used that to block development, I’d think they were holding us hostage to their practices. (It’s also a kind of loophole: The law banning amplified sound during services never assumed that someplace would hold services all day, or every day until 10 pm.)
    Based on that, I would not want a church nearby! Who knows – anytime they opposed something they might try to block it by holding all-day or late-night services, or discovering some religious grounds, or they might make other demands and call us bigots if we didn’t conform.
    Better to object to this purely on neighborhood and traffic-impact grounds. That’s the #1 objection anyway. The emphasis on shuls looks like a “cover,” and is bad for shuls.

  5. The position of Borough President should be abolished. It’s a total waste of taxpayer money. Marty, when you start acting like a Yid; then you can lecture us. The Mayor is kicking in with $10,000,000!!! The economy is in the toilet & their wasting money on this? Outrageous!

  6. I fully understand the objections. I just wonder if to bring the Shul into the mix, and fight previous concerts is the wisest thing.

  7. I don’t think it’s just a religious worship issue. It’s a community issue. I’m sure that most people living in apartments right in the area don’t like it either.

    I’m completely sympathetic, and I don’t go to shul. What I do is try to live in peace and quiet over on Stillwell Avenue, near Neptune avenue. This evening, Sat., June 26, there was a concert at MCU (formerley Keyspan) Park that went on for hours, and actually got louder and louder till it ended at 11PM. It was like it was right in my apartment, even though it was about 2 blocks away. We also sometimes get deafening block parties around here.

    I’ve complained to District 13 with sympathetic reactions, but very, very limited success. If anybody can suggest how to srart a grass-roots axction group, I’d sure appreciate it.

  8. I think it is a real shame that the concerts got cancelled. Yes, maybe for a few hours there is some music playing loudly, but it brings people in the community together, and provides them with entertainment that maybe they wouldn’t be able to afford in another venue. Maybe if everyone started acting like they were part of the same community rather than wanting things to be separate and having special rules made just for them, we would all enjoy our summer more.

  9. I’m a professional musician, myself. I’m not in favor of concerts getting cancelled – only of decible levels being controlled. Musician’s, themselves, with varying degrees of concious awareness, suffer from hearing loss and other problems when music is too loud.