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Bandshell backdraft

The Brooklyn Paper
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Opponents of Borough President Markowitz’s planned Asser Levy Park amphitheater crashed a rally on Sunday that the Beep organize to protest the closure of a Coney Island firehouse — demanding Markowitz use the money he plans to spend on the stage on the FDNY instead.

Several people held signs that linked the issue of the city-planned closure of Ladder Company 161 on W. Eighth Street in to the proposed $64-million venue, which they say will violate a city noise law, take up precious park space and is a waste of money. Slogans included “Tell Markowitz to use his money to keep our firehouses open, not build an amphitheat­er.” A few people even booed when Markowitz took the microphone to speak out against the firehouse closure, according to rally participant Ida Sanoff.

“How can Markowitz have the audacity to show up at a rally against closing a firehouse to save money when he’s sitting on millions of dollars to build an amphitheater nobody wants?” said Sanoff, of Brighton Beach, who also sued to move the Beep’s concert series from the park near W. Fifth Street and Surf Avenue.

A spokesman for Markowitz lashed out at the protestors, claiming funds for the amphitheater, which is slated to be built in 2012, are not allowed to be used to preserve the eight fire companies that the city wants to close to save $55 million. Markowitz’s bandshell will be paid for by money that’s set aside for Brooklyn cultural events, he said, while 20 fire companies are being closed city-wide in accordance with Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts for 2012.

“It is ridiculous that these people are trying to use the very serious issue of firehouse closings to promote their narrow selfish agenda, especially since there is no legal way to use capital funds to save firehouses,” said spokesman Jon Paul Lupo.

But amphitheater-haters are fuming over the city’s explanation that Marty’s money can’t be used for other causes.

“It’s disgusting and unreal that they have money to [waste] on this amphitheater but can’t save Ladder 161,” said Mendy Sontag, president of the Sea Breeze Jewish Center, which is also sued to shut down Markowitz’s Asser Levy Park concerts.

In 2009, Markowitz announced plans to replace the Asser Levy Park bandshell with an 8,000-seat amphitheater that will be a Westbury Music Festival-style coveted outdoor venue. The same year, more than 100 critics rallied against the venue, known as the “Potato Chip” due to its sloped roof. A year later, opponents tried to block the expanded amphitheater by suing to shut down the Beep’s Asser Levy Park concerts on the grounds that amplified music is illegal within 500 feet of houses of worship.

This year, Markowitz’s music has been moved to the a W. 21st Street lot about a mile away, but the amphitheater is still in the works.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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