So much for the 500-foot rule.
Days after opponents of Borough President Markowitz’s $64-million concert amphitheater proposal sued to prevent the Beep from running his popular summer concert series, the City Council past a bill that would make amplified music legal — no matter how close it is to a house of worship.
“This is such a low thing to do,” said Al Turk, a vice president of Temple Beth Abraham, one of the two synagogues that is fighting the amplified concerts, which have filled the air around Asser Levy Park in Coney Island with amplified sound since 1991.
The bill, which has Mayor Bloomberg’s support, would allow Markowitz’s summer concerts to go on, though sound readings will be taken at the synogogues. The law forbids such concerts if interior sound levels go up by more than 10 decibels during the shows.
And the bill expires in three months, presumably when a permanent law will be drafted to cover amplified music.
The temples’ lawsuit seeks a restraining order preventing Markowitz from kicking off the concerts on July 15 with Neil Sedaka. It was spurred by Markowitz’s larger plan for a $64-million amphitheater in Asser Levy Park. Opponents said they only discovered the existance of the 500-foot rule when they started putting together their lawsuit.
As such, Norman Siegel, who is representing the plaintiffs in the possibly moot lawsuit, criticized lawmakers for this week’s end-around.
“It’s a sad commentary when legislators, rather than comply with the law, decide to change the law,” said Siegel.
After the bill passed on Tuesday, Markowitz issued a statement hailing the legislation.
“The show will go on!” he said. “This vote is a vote for valued cultural programming in our city’s parks and a show of commitment to ensuring our city’s laws reflect the needs of our vibrant, diverse 21st-century city.”
He lashed out at his opponents as using the 500-foot rule “to hold these shows hostage to an agenda to stop future park renovations. … The [amphitheater] will include a renovated covered band shell as well as improved drainage, walkways, a new state-of-the-art comfort station and fabulous new accessible playground [and] will only make the park better and more usable for the surrounding community.”
A spokesman for the mayor argued that the new sound bill addresses shortcomings in the exiting 500-foot rule.
“Every venue is different, so basing the rule on a one-size-fits-all distance may not be the most effective way to do it,” spokesman Andrew Brent said.
Opponents had a different take on it.
“This is Marty Markowitz smashing the public under the heel of his jackboot,” said Ida Sanoff, a plaintiff in the suit.