When is an amphitheater not an amphitheater? Apparently, when the people expected to live next to it decide they don’t want it.
Up until now, Community Board 13 -- located just a few short blocks away fromthe site where Borough President Marty Markowitz wants to build a new $64 million amphitheater inside Asser Levy Seaside Park -- has ducked virtually any meaningful involvement in the “as-of-right” project.
“The board technically doesn’t have an opinion to render,” CB 13 Chair Marion Cleaver said. “Borough Hall is not following the ULURP process.”
This week, however, Cleaver decided to weigh in anyway, saying that the proposed amphitheater is, in fact, not really an amphitheater at all.
“It’s not an amphitheater - it’s an improvement to the existing situation there,” Cleaver explained. “Jones Beach is an amphitheater. From the plans that I’ve seen, it’s going to be a seating arrangement. After the summer, it’s going to go away.”
Critics of the plan, which includes a high-tech roof and elevated seating built over new bathroom facilities, were quick to rebut Cleaver’s characterization of Borough Hall’s ambitious plans to transform Seaside Park.
“It seems like she hasn’t seen the plans the rest of the community has seen,” NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft said. “It would be helpful if she was even remotely aware of what the project plan is.”
Cleaver’s view of the project is actually very similar to the one Borough Hall began pitching to the community over the summer.
Instead of an “amphitheater,” as it was originally sold, the new facilities being proposed for Seaside Park began to be called “the new bandshell,” part of the “Asser Levy Seaside Park Rehabilitation Project.”
That’s a marked departure from the way the borough president originally introduced the plan.
In Markowitz’s 2007 State of the Borough address he declared, “I have a plan to build New York City’s first amphitheater at Coney Island -- a state-of-the-art, covered, outdoor, performance arts venue at Asser Levy Seaside Park.”
According to the borough president, the new “Coney Island Performance Arts Center” would “attract top entertainers who play the summer concert circuit at Jones Beach, the Westbury Theater, and the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey.”
Opponents of the project will hold a special town hall meeting on October 18 at the Sea Breeze Jewish Center to discuss the latest developments. Start time is 11 a.m. The Sea Breeze Jewish Center islocated at 311 Sea Breeze Avenue.