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Parks doesn’t rule out amphitheater ULURP

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The “as-of-right” plan to construct a new $64 million amphitheater inside Asser Levy Park on Sea Breeze Avenuemight require community input after all, this paper has learned.

Critics of the proposal maintain that the plan constitutes a change in park use and therefore must be subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

ULURP is the city’s way of publicly vetting land use issues and involves a five-step review process beginning at the local community board and ending at the mayor’s office.

The recent rezoning of the Coney Island amusement district is one recent example of the ULURP process in action.

Borough President Marty Markowitz, however, contends that his dream of transforming Asser Levy Seaside Park into a major new concert hub does not require ULURP.

Borough Hall actually had plans calling for the demolition of the existing bandshell at Asser Levy Park this fall.

Despite that, The Department of Parks and Recreation said this week that “The city has not yet made a determination if the amphitheater project will require ULURP.”

“The amphitheater’s construction itself would not require ULURP,” Parks spokesperson Phil Abramson said. “We are working with the borough president’s office on management strategy for the amphitheater’s operation. A determination will then be made if major concession approval involving ULURP is required.”

Architectural plans presented to Community Board 13’s Parks Committee last December showed that part of Asser Levy’s oval lawn in front of the proposed amphitheater would be unavailable for recreational use four months out of the year %u2013 from May through August %u2013 while concerts were being presented.

Rows of fixed seating would occupy the space instead.

Currently, temporary seating set out for concerts at Asser Levy Park are removed following each show’s performance.

“It’s a major change of use,” amphitheater critic Ida Sanoff said. “Once those 5,000 seats are up they are there for the duration of the concert series. They made it clear that area would be off-limits.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said it is clear that if the amphitheater is built park use would be dramatically altered.

“That open space is 110-yards long %u2013 at least now it’s open,” said Croft. “With this new facility, that all changes. Markowitz’ office has desperately tried to spin this saying the use won’t be changed.”

Borough Hall says that the seats occupying the Asser Levy lawn will be designed so that there is the ability to remove them after performances.

With regard to the ULURP question, a Borough Hall spokesperson said, “Whatever the appropriate process is will be followed.”

“The Parks Department is trying to play it safe,” said Croft. “You can’t say the building of this [amphitheater] doesn’t need ULURP when the programming that you’re doing are one and the same.”

Critics say they have collected over 10,000 signatures on a petition against Markowtiz’ amphitheater. But so far Community Board 13 has taken no position on the issue, and the borough president has the support the City Councilmember representing the 47th District, Domenic Recchia.

Recchia’s support of the Coney Island rezoning proposal was instrumental in convincing the rest of his City Council colleagues to back that effort.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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