Archive for the tag 'marty markowitz'

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The Coney Island Boardwalk Community Garden received an agreement from the city to stop construction of the amphitheater on the site of their recently destroyed garden. Construction will be postponed until June 10 when the Kings County Supreme Court will hear the case.

The local garden community lost their greens, cats and chickens last year during a midnight raid by the city that left the whole garden completely destroyed. The destruction happened only 10 days after former Borough President Marty Markowitz received permission from the city to begin construction on the amphitheater. The proposed 5,099-seat Seaside Park and Community Arts Center was to be the permanent home of Markowitz’s summer concert series and was seen as a personal project of the beep’s, even after Community Board 13 voted the theater down.

The displaced gardeners had filed the lawsuit in March.

The land the garden sits on is city-owned, and is where seating for the amphitheater will be located. It’s next to the Childs Restaurant building, which will be the stage – and which has not yet been purchased by the city.

Some information on the two conflicting claims, via our earlier reports:

[The] outraged gardeners say that the city failed to do its due diligence, and that the West 22nd Street greenspace was legally a New York City park and the group had an agreement with the city to operate the garden, which should have at least delayed the demolition.

The city, though, previously claimed that the garden was decommissioned as a park in 2004, Brownstoner points out. The group says the city never told them that and let them continue to operate for years, according to NY1.

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The New York City Community Garden Coalition is suing the city on behalf of the Boardwalk Community Garden in Coney Island, which lost its city-owned land to make way for a seaside amphitheater.

Just days after the City Council approved a plan to make a 5,099-seat concert venue at the landmarked Childs Restaurant in December, bulldozers rolled onto the adjacent property and demolished the garden in a midnight raid.

But the outraged gardeners say that the city failed to do its due diligence, and that the West 22nd Street greenspace was legally a New York City park and the group had an agreement with the city to operate the garden, which should have at least delayed the demolition.

The city, though, previously claimed that the garden was decommissioned as a park in 2004, Brownstoner points out. The group says the city never told them that and let them continue to operate for years, according to NY1.

The gardeners are also suing over what they believe has been an insufficient environmental review, particularly when it comes to the requirements of their sewer system and flood protection. Brooklyn Daily reports:

“The city did not follow its own regulations,” said attorney Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, which is spearheading the suit. “You’re going to have thousands of people coming to a concert, and the sewers in Coney West cannot take that.”

Kupferman further alleged that iStar Financial, the company that will construct and operate the new hall as a permanent home for Markowitz’s summer concert series, did not do the proper studies when they designed the underground reservoirs that the company claims will combat flooding at the waterfront venue.

Attorneys for iStar say that the blueprints are perfectly in line with regulations.

The amphitheater is set to be the new, permanent home of the former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s free summer concert series. It has been opposed by Community Board 13, but given the green light by the Department of City Planning and the City Council.

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

A rendering of the proposed amphitheater.

Well, the city may drag its feet when it comes to repairing the pothole in front of your house, but when it comes to tearing up community gardens, boy, do they move quickly.

The proposed Seaside Park and Community Arts Center, a.k.a. the 5,099-seat amphitheater doggedly sought by outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz, was given the go-ahead just a mere 10 days ago. Yet, while you might wait months or even years to see a sidewalk crack repaired, the city was quick to evict a beloved community garden in the construction site’s footprint.

Bulldozers were deployed in the middle of the night on Sunday, and workers threw out the gardener’s tools and wheelbarrows, and removed their chickens and a colony of feral cats.

The New York Post reports:

The chickens were placed in pet carriers on the sidewalk and the felines were left fending for themselves.

“They destroyed life!” fumed tearful volunteer Elena Voitsenko, 60, a Russian immigrant who told The Post she’ll take in the birds until they find a new home.

“‎I came to America to escape from the communist regime,” she added. “This is more than the communist regime! They came at 4 in the morning.”

The land the garden sits on is city-owned, and is where seating for the amphitheater will be located. It’s next to the Childs Restaurant building, which will be the stage – and which has not yet been purchased by the city.

But even though the project is still several years off (unless similarly expedited), the city went ahead and gave the boot to the 30-year-old garden regardless of a request for a stay of execution.

Throughout Saturday, volunteers recovered their belongings after workers knocked down plots for tomatoes, cabbage, zucchinis and other vegetables.

Residents say they’ve run the garden since the 1980s.

The city Economic Development Corp., which is spearheading the project, referred questions to the borough president. Markowitz’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

But Mark Cottingham, a consultant for the project, said the urban farm was decommissioned in 2004 and was operating illegally.

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

A rendering of the proposed amphitheater.

The New York City Council gave a parting gift to outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz, greenlighting his proposal to create a new open-air auditorium, green space and restaurant at the former site of Childs Restaurant on West 21st Street and the boardwalk in Coney Island.

The Council voted in favor of a resolution supporting a 10-year special permit allowing the 5,099-seat amphitheater at its final meeting of the year yesterday, where the majority of the legislative body’s representatives will give up their seats to term-limits on December 31.

Related resolutions that also passed yesterday in order to make way for the project include creating a special zoning district, as well as the acquisition of land between West 21st Street and West 22nd Street, and the elimination of the street between West 22nd Street and West 23rd Street.

Dubbed the Seaside Park and Community Arts Center, the theater and community complex will be used to continue the free Seaside Summer Concert series started by Markowitz, and will also feature paid shows as well. A restaurant concession is also part of the deal.

Markowitz is overjoyed by the project’s approval, which many have portrayed as the final achievement of his legacy as beep. He claims it will create jobs and stimulate commercial development in Coney Island.

Here’s part of the press release Markowitz issued yesterday evening:

This is a landmark achievement for the future of Coney Island and the entirety of Brooklyn. The Seaside Park and Community Arts Center will add even more energy and excitement to one of our nation’s top destinations for family amusement and entertainment, which will increase local tourism and stimulate our economy.

The City’s first covered seasonal   amphitheater will create hundreds of quality jobs; the developer has committed to prioritizing local residents both for construction jobs and when the amphitheater is up and running. This project will catalyze residential and commercial development and keep our City’s attention focused intently on the needed infrastructure improvements that residents of Coney Island’s West End have been seeking for years. By adaptively reusing the Childs building, which has been closed to the public since the 1940’s, we can breathe new life into this under-utilized section of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. By building a lush neighborhood park, we can jumpstart the Coney Island Plan and deliver on the city’s promise of building green spaces.

The proposal won the approval of the Council’s Land Use Committee on Wednesday, allowing it to move forward to the general body.

The local community board voted against the plan in September, and, although the site is landmarked, the Landmarks Preservation Committee gave the overhaul – which would see at least one exterior wall torn down - a thumbs up.

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

Rendering of the proposed venue (Source: NYC Preservation Commission)

The New York City Council is set to vote on the on the $58 million proposal to convert the former site of Childs Restaurant in Coney Island into an amphitheater and public park today, the final scheduled meeting of the Council for the year.

The plan got the green light from the Council’s Committee on Land Use yesterday, according to Crain’s New York, and today goes before the full body.

Here are details from the Crain’s article:

The proposal for the Seaside Park and Community Arts Center project is being advanced by both the city’s Economic Development Corp. and an iStar Financial subsidiary called Coney Island Holdings LLC. Under the plan, zoning laws would be altered and permits granted to allow for the construction of an outdoor amphitheater along the boardwalk near West 21st Street, that could accommodate 5,099 people. In addition, a public park would be built and the landmarked Childs Restaurant would be restored and reopened as an eatery and catering facility.

The proposal has the support of the local City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., D-Brooklyn, which means the proposal is likely to sail through the full council tomorrow, since the legislative body typically votes in concert with the local lawmaker.

“The improvements proposed in this project will undoubtedly restore this iconic structure’s use to the community, provide multiple cultural and educational benefits, and greatly contribute to the area’s ongoing cultural and economic revitalization,” Mr. Recchia said in a statement.

The proposal is the brainchild of Borough President Marty Markowitz, who has long sought a permanent venue for his free Seaside Summer Concert Series. Original plans were for an amphitheater in Asser-Levy Seaside Park, where the concerts were held for years. But neighborhood advocates leery of losing one of the community’s few green spaces, and concerns over traffic, parking and noise, led to that proposal’s death after a protracted legal battle.

In addition to the beep’s free concerts, advocates for the plan hope to bring paid concerts as well, and see the proposal as a way to spark residential development in the Sandy-stricken neighborhood.

Some neighbors of Childs Restaurant, as well as members of a community garden on the site that would need to be relocated, have expressed opposition based on traffic, parking and noise.

The local community board voted against the plan in September, and, although the site is landmarked, the Landmarks Preservation Committee gave the overhaul – which would see at least one exterior wall torn down - a thumbs up.

brigham

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: After many years, proposals, battles and studies, the plans to begin work on Sheepshead Bay’s newest green space, Brigham Street Park, are finally unveiled.

The park will be sited at Brigham Street, sandwiched between Emmons Avenue and the waterfront. The current site is now a rubble-filled lot abutting the entrance to the bike path and greenway leading out to Plumb Beach. That entrance is about to get a whole lot more appealing with what looks like might be the new gem of Emmons Avenue’s eastern terminus.

The park will feature a playground, walking path, picnic tables and lots and lots of greenery.

Let’s take a closer look at the plans currently being circulated to local leaders by the Parks Department, and which will go for approval by the Public Design Commission later this month.

Check out the plans!

I bet Obama hates this painting, which hangs in an Indian art gallery, as much as he hates our children. (Source: ssquah.blogspot.com)

I bet Obama hates this painting, which hangs in an Indian art gallery, as much as he hates our children. (Source: ssquah.blogspot.com)

It might be the worst thing President Barack Obama has ever done.

The commander-in-chief is neglecting to make time for teenagers from Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L), who were crowned national student chess champions, winning the title for the eighth time this April.

While Barry Obama has made time for the San Francisco Giants, the Indiana Fever, and even the 1972 Miami Dolphins, he’s got no time for pawn-pushers – even if his predecessor did meet with the team in 2004.

New York Daily News has got the scoop:

[Coach Eliot] Weiss has made numerous requests of the White House via email and post, but has been rejected each time — and each time, the White House suggests that the leader of the free world is just too busy.

“Due to the volume of inquiries and the time constraints of his schedule, the President must decline the majority of meeting requests he receives,” the White House wrote to Weiss in October. “We have reviewed your invitation, and unfortunately, President Obama will be unable to accommodate your request for a meeting.”

It’s particular distressing, Weiss said, because Murrow’s 2013 victory may have been its greatest, with the pride of Midwood besting 1,500 teams from 49 states at the tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

… As leaders themselves, Weiss’ team members know how important an Oval Office could be to their sport and their school.

“A meeting with President Obama could have a positive effect in this neighborhood and even the borough,” said Alexis Paredes, 17, a senior and star player who is originally from Moscow and ranks as an international master. “So many schools have great basketball teams or soccer teams, but not many schools can say they chess team that has won so many nationals.”

While the U.S. President isn’t saying much for himself, Brooklyn’s Borough President Marty Markowitz has a mouthful for him.

“Edward R. Murrow High School and the surrounding Midwood community are understandably proud to be home to America’s reigning ‘kings and queens’ of chess,” the borough president told the News. “Our borough has a growing tradition of excellence in ‘the royal game.’ which also includes the stars of ‘Brooklyn Castle’ in Bushwick. They are all stellar role models of mental mastery, and we here in Brooklyn celebrate their triumphs both day and ‘knight’!”

We have no idea what the president could be doing that’s more important than this.

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

A blow came to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as Community Board 13 voted against the plan to convert the historic Childs Restaurant at West 21st Street into an amphitheater. The New York Daily News is reporting that board members voted against the project after fielding complaints from residents that the new facility would invite increased traffic and noise to the area.

As we’ve previously reported, the $53 million amphitheater is the pet project of the departing borough president. The new facility, which is set to transform the historic Childs Restaurant into a 5,000-seat concert hall that will host musical acts, restaurants and other concessions, is expected to be completed in 2015.

The Board held a meeting and voted 14-to-7 against the plan, stunning Markowitz and other developers who were moving full steam ahead with the project:

The surprising denial came after the board’as own Zoning and Land Use Committee overwhelmingly voted 10-1 to approve the plan earlier this month.

“It’s hard to understand what happened,” admitted Community Board 13 district manager Chuck Reichenthal, referring to the Monday night vote.

Markowitz said he was “disappointed” by the vote.
“This project… will generate jobs, economic development and joy for Coney Island and all of Brooklyn for generations to come.”…

Howard Weiss, the lawyer for star Financial, defended the plan.

“Any concerns about noise and traffic have been fully addressed,” Weiss said Wednesday.

Weiss pointed out that a special tent covering the concert area would help reduce the noise of the summertime shows.

Besides noise and traffic, local community members also expressed frustration that the fast pace of construction might endanger the community garden, as some proposals call for the garden to be paved over to provide for more parking. Local resident Carol DeMartino told News 12 that before construction proceeds, community members should have the opportunity to be more involved in the process.

“I’m hoping that all the people that show up will at least put a halt on it until the whole community is given the information, can process it. Stop rushing it, the whole thing is rushed,” DeMartino said.

While the Board’s vote comes as a blow to the development of the project, it does not represent a death knell as it is merely an advisory ruling. The Daily News reported that the City Planning Commission will likely give a further go-ahead next month before sending the project to the City Council for the final say. Still, the rejection by the Board tampers the enthusiasm of the project, long trumpeted by Markowitz, and sets the stage for more confrontation between developers and local residents.

Photo by Allan Shweky

I understand why the girl (center) is wearing a 1-UP shirt. (Photo by Allan Shweky)

Masters of poise and balance gathered together to ride across the city on unicycles for the third annual Unicycle Festival. Sheepshead Bites reader and “Friends of Ocean Parkway” blogger Allan Shweky sent us some wonderful pictures of talented unicycle enthusiasts wobbling away by Ocean Parkway.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz finally declared this past Friday “Brooklyn Unicycle Day,” as talented unicyclists took part in a three-day long-distance ride. Allan described the path of the unicycle riders on his blog:

The long distance ride starts at City Hall in Manhattan, crosses the Brooklyn Bridge, and continues to Coney Island. The total distance of the ride is approximately 13 miles.

The ride was organized the Unicycle Bridge Tour. Here are some more pictures provided by Allan. Thanks for all the great stuff!

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Photo by Allan Shweky

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

Worst Photoshop Job Ever? (Source: NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission)

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s dream of putting a multi-purpose amphitheater in Coney Island cleared a major hurdle this week when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Commission gave approval to transform the Childs Restaurant (West 21st Street), which is landmarked, into a community arts center and seaside Park.

As we’ve previously reported, the project, which costs an estimated $53 million, will transform Childs Restaurant into a 5,000 seat concert hall with space for an additional 2,000 people on the adjacent lawn. Here is a list detailing the expected changes:

  • The design plan will remain true to the original Childs Restaurant and will restore the classical Greek, Spanish and maritime influenced architecture along the exterior and rooftop of the building.
  • A hole will be knocked in the side of the restaurant to create room for a stage.
  • The land surrounding the space will be manicured into a park that will also allow for 5,000 seat viewing capacity when shows are put on.
  • During the spring and summer, the semi-circular stage will be set underneath a removable mesh roof.
  • There will be a high end restaurant and cafe that will operate year round. The restaurant will also feature an open-air section on the roof like the original Childs Restaurant.
  • The surrounding empty lots around West 22nd Street will be converted into parks, lawns, gardens and provide a space for private concessions.

Markowitz tapped his inner showman in expressing praise at the Commission’s decision.

“The (Commission) has taken a major step towards ensuring that rain or shine, the show will go on in Coney Island,” Markowitz said in a statement.

Fredrick Bland, an official from the Landmarks Commission was apparently bowled over by Markowitz’s plan.

“It’s really a very creative, clever solution,” Bland said.

Speaking of ‘bland,’ something has to be said about the mock-up of the proposed amphitheater pictured above. This is either one of the worst Photoshop jobs ever thrown together or a representation of how boring this structure might look from the outside when it is expected to be completed in 2015. I suppose time will tell on how the building actually turns out, but right now it looks pretty ugly.

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