Coney Island Conundrum

Residents opposed to the $64 million Coney Island Performing Arts Center to replace the bandshell at Asser Levy Park in New York’s Coney Island have made their opinions known in recent weeks, calling the amphitheatre a waste of money and accusing the future venue of destroying parkland.

The shed will cover about eight acres with 5,000 seats and lawn space for 3,000 additional people. The current bandshell covers 1.5 acres and has exposed removable seating.

Controversy over the project kicked off after a recent briefing by British-based Grimshaw Architects, designer for the Fulton Street Transportation Hub in lower Manhattan as well as the artist rendering of the Coney Island Performing Arts Center, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

While the proposed venue has been praised as an improvement to the outdoor concerts at Levy Park and a major asset for Brooklyn, flyers from the Save Seaside Park campaign, coordinated by NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit open-space advocacy group, proclaim: “Don’t Waste $64 Million of Your Money on an Amphitheater!” and “It Will Destroy the Only Park in the Area!”

The NYC Park Advocates, which calls the new venue “an atrocity,” is planning a town hall meeting to discuss the amphitheatre.

“What – $64 million for this?” said environmental activist Ida Sanoff, who lives near the park and is a former Community Board 13 member, according to the Daily Eagle. “Why put a commercial venue in the midst of a residential community, bringing traffic jams? Our libraries and school programs are being cut. It will take away parkland and bring more noise.

“We don’t need this expensive plastic potato chip here!” Sanoff added, referring to the venue’s initial design that includes a sweeping clear concave roof over the stage and seating area. A representative of Grimshaw told Pollstar Jan. 28 an approved design was still a week a way.

Since Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced the amphitheatre plan nearly two years ago, the estimated price tag on the 87,200-square-foot project has increased from $35 million to $64 million, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Markowitz is kicking in $54 million of his office’s capital improvement funds into the project with the mayor’s office providing the additional $10 million.

“The Coney Island Center will be a much-needed community resource, and will bring Coney Island the kind of state-of-the-art performance facility Brooklyn deserves,” Markowitz said, according to the paper.

“The city’s first covered outdoor performance space will make our borough a natural stop on the summer concert circuit for entertainers who now play Jones Beach, Westbury and the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey,” he added.

Ground is scheduled to be broken this August but the project still needs an OK from Community Board 13, which is expected to take its position on the shed within the next two months.