Seaside summer concert series

Cue the music—summer concert series will return to cramped lot

The Brooklyn Paper
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Borough President Markowitz’s popular summer concert series, which was booted from Asser Levy Park last year for being too loud, will once again be staged in a cramped Coney Island lot — even though concert-goers have repeatedly panned the spot for being too small for major stars like Aretha Franklin and Joan Jett.

Civic leaders confirmed that this year’s Seaside Summer Concert Series will be returning to the vacant site on W. 21st Street near Surf Avenue this summer — a spot many said was a poor substitute for Asser Levy Park.

“Asser Levy was a much better venue with a much better atmosphere,” said Bay Ridge resident Kelly Graham, who attended the Joan Jett concert last July. “This space [stinks]!”

The W. 21st Street lot includes 5,000 paid seats positioned near a makeshift stage, but only has room for 2,000 free seats in the back — roughly half of what the park at Ocean Parkway and Seabreeze Avenue — which is about the size of a city block — provided. The W. 21st Street lot, in comparison, is about a third of a city block.

The lack of free seating and drab surroundings irked concert-goers from the very start of last year’s concert series.

Most of the complaints came from those who brought their own chairs and blankets and watch the show for free, grumbling that they missed the wide-open spaces of Asser Levy.

“Asser Levy Park was a beautiful and classic location,” said Steven Centonzo. “I miss the grass and picnicking with a blanket.”

The issue came to a head after 1,000 angry fans were turned away from Franklin’s August concert because the al fresco music hall was too small.

Yet supporters say the vacant lot is big enough to accommodate the summer-long music series.

“The spot they’re working with is fine,” said Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal.

The borough president held his Seaside Summer Concert Series at Asser Levy Park every year since 1991, but caused an uproar when he announced plans to build a $64-million, 8,000-seat bandshell there. Congregants of two synagogues abutting the park and other local critics balked at the idea, calling the planned venue a monstrosity that would destroy parkland and overwhelm their quiet street.

Synagogue officials sued to shut the Beep’s concerts down on the grounds that amplified music is illegal within 500 feet of houses of worship. Markowitz settled the lawsuit last year by agreeing to relocate the concerts to W. 21st Street.

Brighton Beach residents who sued Markowitz said they were pleased that the concert won’t come back to Asser Levy Park.

“It’s what the law is all about,” said longtime concert critic Ida Sanoff. “The new location fits in perfectly with Coney Island.”

Seaside concert organizer and promoter Debbie Garcia said the series will move forward, but wouldn’t provide further details — or reveal the lineup for this year’s shows.

Borough President Markowitz hasn’t given up on a state-of-the-art amphitheater, spokesman Mark Zustovich explained.

“The borough president remains committed — financially and otherwise — to a world-class performance venue,” Zustovich said.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at
Updated 5:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

bengee from coney says:
If Marty wasn't so greedy he would still have been in the park.But being the —— that he is he got what he deserved.
May 15, 2012, 6:36 am
jerry from brighton beach says:
Sorry Marty : You are not above the law. Get use it.
By the way Marty : Do you have a permit for the money you collect for the 5000 seats @ $ 5.00 each that you get paid for ?
You know Marty you need a permit for that too !
May 15, 2012, 3:47 pm
Dina from Bay Ridge says:
I attended the concerts at Asser Levy for YEARS! Asser Levy was a great venue for an outdoor concert where people could picnic and bring their children. It's unfortunate that Marty chose to propose a huge ampitheater which he KNEW would cause an uproar among the residents of the area. I no longer attend the concerts as the new venue is cramped and not conducive to picnicing.
BOO TO YOU, MARTY for ruining the summer concert series.
May 17, 2012, 11:02 am
Dina from Bay Ridge says:
I attended the concerts at Asser Levy for YEARS! Asser Levy was a great venue for an outdoor concert where people could picnic and bring their children. It's unfortunate that Marty chose to propose a huge ampitheater which he KNEW would cause an uproar among the residents of the area. I no longer attend the concerts as the new venue is cramped and not conducive to picnicing.
BOO TO YOU, MARTY for ruining the summer concert series.
May 17, 2012, 11:02 am
Dina from Bay Ridge says:
I attended the concerts at Asser Levy for YEARS! Asser Levy was a great venue for an outdoor concert where people could picnic and bring their children. It's unfortunate that Marty chose to propose a huge ampitheater which he KNEW would cause an uproar among the residents of the area. I no longer attend the concerts as the new venue is cramped and not conducive to picnicing.
BOO TO YOU, MARTY for ruining the summer concert series.
May 17, 2012, 11:02 am
Arthur from Sheepshead Bay says:
Last years concert series had some great acts and I very much enjoyed attending them, though it is indesputable that Asser Levy Park was a MUCH, MUCH better site. I have friends that refuse to attend the new site because they are scared to go inside for fear that if a riot ever ensued they would get hurt. They likened the new site to ''a cage'' and I very much agree that the new site is fatally flawed. I like Marty Markowiz a lot but he should have quit while he was ahead. The new environment is not even close to what we had previously. Paradise Lost !!!!!!
May 19, 2012, 4:58 pm
tony from kensington says:
While I agree that Marty bit off more than he could chew, The people in Brighton who complained and stopped the concert series altogether at Asser should be ashamed of themselves and their selfishness, a case of the few stopping the enjoyment of the tens of thousands who attended .. All should just have agreed no amphi-theater, and keep the concerts as is at Asser-Levy
May 21, 2012, 7:41 pm
TomBk from Sunset Park says:
Asser Levy was a fine venue.

I went to 21st Street for Aretha Franklin and couldn't get in. I'm not happy about that.

I went to Cheap Trick and had to pass through metal detectors to get in. Perhaps that's a reflection of the crime filled neighborhood. Metal detectors weren't required at Asser.

And then at Cheap Trick, they kept postponing the show because of possible lightning. But all the people were still in the seats. If lightning came, they would have still been hit by it--just not while music was playing. So why bother with the delay? Was it just to protect the band?

Please fix the Summer Series. Get it back to being a good free concert.
May 25, 2012, 6:50 pm
Joseph from bensonhurst says:
This is New York The greatest city in the world. Get this small problem done and restored. Fight! it'll be worth the great artist gracing our fine beach area and resurgence happening there.
May 26, 2012, 12:37 pm
Baba Booey from New Dorp says:
I can't believe that some crusty old fogies can shut down an excellent music series. Or why couldnt they just put the stage on the beach and say tough noogies if its loud? The idea of a caged in parking lot is a drag.
May 29, 2012, 4:42 pm
Former Brooklynite from Old School Canarsie says:
Why not hold the concerts in the Brooklyn Cyclones Stadium when games aren't going on? Plenty of seats, plenty of room....
May 30, 2012, 3:09 am
Slate from Boerum Hill says:
Having been to both venues, there are pros and cons for each. I liked the trees and the intimacy that Asher Levy Park offers. But when I saw Donna Summer, wow, was that crowded. To go the bathroom and back to your paid seat was a minor miracle but to the people's credit, everyone tried to make it work and in the end, I love loved the concert.
The empty lot had a lot more breathing room and at Joan Jett it wasn't wall to wall people. But waiting on the street to get in in the direct sunlight and sweltering heat was no fun. Also, I sat in the paid seats, I'm sure those that prefer to picnic were miserable. Also, it's a schlepp from the train were as Asher Levy is right there.
June 3, 2012, 5:40 pm
Punky Ann from Crown Heights says:
Why not have the concerts in Marine Park ?
June 5, 2012, 8:29 pm
Daniel from Dyker Hts. says:
I'm a bit amazed that there's so much attitude and boo-hooing over what essentially is free concerts ($5 for a seat isn't something to complain about!) I would think you'd all be thrilled. There's a great deal of effort that goes into making these events happen. Maybe the new spot isn't "ideal". Maybe its because I don't need to be on top of the stage. I loved A.L Park but for residents I can't imagine it was easy to tolerate. In any case, before you weigh-in, weigh all the pro's and con's. We're lucky to even have the concerts. Perhaps you'd be willing to volunteer to clean up the new place? Maybe the fence could be painted multi-colored to give it less of a "lot" feeling and more of being a party? In short, can we just enjoy what we have? That doesn't seems to be asking too much under the circumstances.
June 6, 2012, 12:02 pm
Preston from Sunset park/Bay ridge says:
I Been Going to asser levy park for a long time and putting on west 21st street to have it is a big mistake because the night of the aretha franklin concert was a real mess with so many people wanted to see it it's not enough room and it's sad the shouldnt put it back where it was it was more convenient so everyone could watch the show now with this venue its too small and i find it very upsetting
June 9, 2012, 2:16 am
Jen says:
Saw Bush and Seether in concert in Rochester, MN last night. They put on a great show. Seether did a set of all their biggest hits and the newer "Country Song". Just got my tickets from to attend them alive nd mix of older hits and a few from their new album.

I hear they are heading to Omaha for a concert tonight. I recommend seeing it if you like their music. It was a blast!
June 13, 2012, 4:08 am
Nick from Bay Ridge says:
I have been going to these concerts for years. Asser Levy Park was such a great place to see the concerts. No matter what time you got there, you could hear and at least get a glimpse of the acts even from the very rear. Not happy with the new location, but this is all Marty's fault for over reaching. At least the concerts will go on.
June 15, 2012, 4:43 am
Smitty from Brighton Beach says:
It's good to see it moved. I now can drive in my own neigborhood on Thursday night in July and August. Plus all they get is has-beens now. They use to have great currrent acts. Who wants to have Areathe scream for 2 hours. That's not singing.
June 15, 2012, 10:14 am
sheila from gravesend says:
A few disgruntled people who probably do not live in the neighborhood were given the power to disrupt the pleasure of many thousands. There was nothing wrong in having the concerts at Asser Levy Park. It was only a few nights in the summer. Concerts were over by 11pm. Shame on these complainers and more shame on the elected officials who caved.
Certainly, neighbors could be tolerant for a few hours, a few Thursdays in the summer.
My mother lives across from the boardwalk for 50 years. There is excessive noise, cars parking in the fire zone, restaurants open until late serving liquor and the police couldn't care less. This noise goes on every night the entire summer, It is mind boggling, that the concerts can't be performed lasting a few hours, one day, for a few weeks
June 18, 2012, 5:17 pm
Tony Manero from Bay Ridge says:
The concerts need to come back to Asser Levy. I hear that Barbara Streisand is coming in July and we need her in a park not some cage across the street from the projects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
June 19, 2012, 9:19 am
Stephanie Mangano from Bay Ridge says:
You're so right Tony!!!!!!!!!!!!!
June 19, 2012, 10:46 am
Jeanette Pagano from sheepshead bay says:
I have gone to both venues and have to say Asser Levy is much more enjoyable. If the complainers just turned on their air conditioners they would not hear any noise. It's six or eight shows once a week...get over it.
June 21, 2012, 3:35 pm
Bernard from old bridge, nj says:
I have been comming to the concerts for years.My day off is Thursday.I travel by nj transit and new York subway.Marty Markowitz is the ultimate showman.Asser Levy park was a more comfortable venue.The important equation is what kind of singers or acts he will book for 20012.
June 21, 2012, 6:39 pm
Kenny from Brighton Beach says:
People complaining that a few people ruined it for everyone don’t know what they are talking about. Marty is the only one to blame. I live 2 blocks from Asser Levy and attended 1-2 shows a year. But parking on a concert night was so bad in the neighborhood that I took a ½ day every Thursday just so I could park in my own neighborhood. I had no problem doing that 7-8 times a year but 3-5 times a week with a new amphitheater would have been a disaster. Marty knew the neighborhood would not go for it but he pushed anyway. The sound ordinance was just one way to get it stopped.
June 22, 2012, 6:33 am
debra from far rockaway says:
I work in Brooklyn and grew up at Coney friend and I love the free concerts at Coney's so nice in this day and age to have something free to enjoy
June 23, 2012, 7:49 am
Kathy H. from Windsor Terrace says:
I have been going to the concerts at Asser Levy for years and it was wonderful. Stop blaming Marty Markowitz and blame the neighbors. I mean really it is once a week and they are always over by 11 PM. Once a week would not hurt anybody. It wasn't that loud. I wish that I lived in the area and listen to the music. I agree with Jeanette, turn on your air conditioner and you wouldn't have to hear it.
June 25, 2012, 10:01 pm
fran b from brighton beach says:
The concerts at asser levy were a pleasure. I am a recreation director at a nursing home down the block from the park. For many years, we wheeled several of our residents to the park so they could enjoy a night of music. It was accomodating to wheelchairs-lots of space, fresh air, good tunes. Many residents invited family members and we had a wonderful picnic & an evening of enjoyable music. The new location is unsafe for wheelchairs, too hot because there is no tree cover and too crowded. It now deprives our residents of seeing musicians they otherwise do not have an opportunity to see again. Very dissapointing.
June 26, 2012, 12:24 pm
Smitty from Brighton Beach says:
All has-beens anyway. Try sleeping though Salsa by the Sea night. Banging on garbage cans till midnight at least. Good Riddence.
June 27, 2012, 2:30 pm
Wayne N from Jamaica Estates says:
The blame of Marty reminds me of Cleveland mad at LeBron for wanting a ring after giving them 7 years of his life. Marty is trying for the ring to elevate Brooklyn to the 21 century to host a Streisand in state of the art and class. Asser was orderly, timely, and over and out before 12. Neighbors can't share 1 night, and they call themselves religious loving and sharing people? They are your problem-period!!! The Levy Concerts were gold-musically, Brooklyn wore a Tuxedo. If Martys new vision was for 3-5 nights, that's different, then I cede to the wishes & rights of the Community Board, however I seriously question if that is fact. My Kings county big brother, Brooklyn,I don't like to have to go to ManHat. for everything of class. Don't give up. Speak with Marty. He's done nothin but good for you. Your sister County, Queens, neighbor who thank you for many great Thursday Nites. Love & Peace- Wayne N.
June 28, 2012, 9:59 pm
I sometimes see these iconic pictures of masses of people flocking to Nathans
where the sign says Nathan's franks .05
(it may say .02).
Anyone who moved to Coney Island for peace and quiet has some sort of mental defect in their thought process. I have been to so many of Marty's concerts over the years. The ampitheater would have been a big boom for the city economy. Peple flock to concerts and spend money coming in and going out. Without them a three legged stool with only two legs just doesn't stand up too well.
People who want tranquility, peace and quiet really shouldn't expect in Coney Island.
Marty is being villified by many here. I
don't know about his other dealings but in regard to these summer concerts Marty is a hero, period.
June 30, 2012, 2:19 pm
John f from Shb says:
The place and atmosphere is horrible ! I guess I'll miss it again this year:(( y don't they have it in Floyd bennett, plenty of room there, as they do have concerts there,, come on Marty where's your pull!!!
July 5, 2012, 9:54 am
Tom Brooklyn from Sunset Park says:
Let's get Coney Island back to the world class amusement and entertainment center it once was--and is capable of becoming again. Or at least as close as the economy and local interest makes feasible.

Part of the problem is it was zoned residential too close to the amusements. Now you have people there who understandably desire some peace and quiet in their homes.

Lets get the zoning right, and get the commercial space allocated logically for amusement and recreation. We don't just want housing. We want open, fresh air space, too; with a large buffer zone to the nearest housing, so they'll have nothing to complain about.
July 6, 2012, 11:36 am

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