Pool party saved! JellyNYC and Open Space Alliance reach deal to save Aug. 29 show

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The briefly canceled Pool Party is back on.

After negotiating through the weekend, the Open Space Alliance and concert promoters JellyNYC have reached an agreement to hold the Aug. 29 concert at East River State Park in Williamsburg — the final concert of the season after a dispute between the two parties threatened to curtail the free summer series.

“It feels like summer in Brooklyn just got extended by an extra week,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, who mediated the dispute. “I am glad both sides finally came together because these concerts mean so much to the neighborhood of Williamsburg and the people of Brooklyn.”

Earlier this week, the final concert was in doubt when the Open Space Alliance, a key sponsor of the Pool Parties, abruptly canceled the Aug. 29 show citing defaulted and missed $31,000 in payments made by JellyNYC.

But JellyNYC fired back on Wednesday, claiming that it had paid all its bills on time and anything it owed due to “overage charges” that were not even in the official contract with the parks advocacy group for the Williamsburg concerts.

“Jelly fulfilled our final contracted payment hoping that overlooking would lead to a better working relationsh­ip,” said Jelly co-founder Alexander Kane. “This plan was met with a simple response stating that the Open Space Alliance did not accept the offer and was canceling our last show with no further talks.”

For the next three days, public officials and developers of sites adjacent to the park worked to resolve the icy standoff to save the canceled show.

After Jelly made an additional payment, owners of land adjacent to the park, including CitiStorage and The Edge, made donations to the Open Space Alliance to allow the concert featuring DeLorean and Dominque Young Unique to continue.

“We were disappointed to learn of the financial challenges with the free concert series, which provides a major benefit to the local community,” said Jeffrey Levine, whose Douglaston Development is building The Edge. “It’s our privilege to help the Open Space Alliance and state Parks to continue to host amazing concerts.”

This year’s series will conclude as planned, but the future of free programming on the Williamsburg waterfront remains unclear.

The cancellation episode could be the final straw in a cantankerous relationship between the event’s primary organizers that has slowly degraded since the series shifted venues from McCarren Park Pool to the state park two years ago.

The two organizations teamed up to put on free shows inside the park’s decaying public pool, which had been closed by the city for 20 years. The events in the pool were always designed to be temporary, as Mayor Bloomberg allocated $50 million for the pool’s eventual restoration. But the series became immensely popular attracting bands such as TV On the Radio, MGMT, Black Lips and The Hold Steady and national attention.

Its move to the East River State Park was as rocky as the riverbank abutting the park itself.

Concertgoers complained about aggressive security and fencing imposed by State Parks, Open Space Alliance staff panned Jelly for missing payments, and Jelly staff lambasted both the state and the Open Space Alliance for the design and costs to the shows.

Negotiations to renew the concert series for another year stalled for months, until Jelly reached out to Schumer last winter when it feared the Open Space Alliance would drop them altogether.

When asked whether the Open Space Alliance would be willing to work with Jelly again next year, the group’s executive director, Stephanie Thayer, indicated it was unlikely, but she would not rule it out.

“Someone told me, “No matter how many times you guys say this is it, it seems we end up together again,’ ” said Thayer. “Who knows?”

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018
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