Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Claremont Community Park Playground Abandoned

DANGER DO NOT ENTER. Abraham Jones, executive director of Claremont Neighborhood Center, stands with kids outside Claremont Park Playground which has been abandoned. (Photo by Enid Alvarez)


THE CITY spent $150,000 to build a new South Bronx playground rather than fix a shuttered park on the same block, according to the New York Daily News.

Neighbors and park advocates say the city robbed Peter to pay Paul this summer when it bankrolled Public School 42’s new playground while a dangerous sinkhole next door has kept Claremont Community Park closed to the public since 2009.

“That park is an eyesore,” said Prince Patrick, 32, who lives nearby. “It should be fixed by now.”

The half-acre park, at Claremont Parkway and Park Ave., opened in 2001, thanks to City Spaces, a public-private program for neighborhoods that lack adequate parkland. Nine years later, the park is marred by weeds and rubble, and signs warn local youngsters to keep out. “We can’t keep flushing money down the toilet,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates.

The park won’t reopen until next spring, because Parks currently has no capital funds to fix the sinkhole, said spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca.

Croft called the delay “unacceptable.” The department seems to have ample funds for parks in more affluent neighborhoods, seethed South Bronx park advocate Harry Bubbins.

Bubbins charged that a “two-tiered system” of parks funding exists, favoring Manhattan’s West Side over the South Bronx.

The Bronx school is responsible for the everyday upkeep of the park, which includes a community garden, a playground, a short asphalt running track and a small sports field, said DeLuca. The older students at PS 42 used the park at recess and after school before it closed.

When she saw the school’s new playground, developed through another public/private program, Out2Play, PS 42 second grader Brieanna Tucker wondered why her favorite park hadn’t been fixed instead.

“I wish [the park] was open,” sniffed Brieanna. “Me and my friends used to go down the slides.”

Only one other Bronx park, Longfellow Garden in Longwood, is currently closed due to serious damage, said Parks spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca.

A sinkhole the size of a small car has swallowed one corner of Claremont Community Park and weeds have sprouted everywhere.

“It looks bad,” said Abraham Jones, Claremont Neighborhood Center executive director.

Kids from the center played at the park before it closed, as did students from a nearby charter school, Jones said.

Emma Peterkin, 69, whose grandchildren used the park, said PS 42 should put pressure on Parks. “My kids have to go way down the block to play,” she said.

Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-South Bronx) allocated the capital funds to build PS 42’s new playground.

New playground next to eyesore park angers nabe
New York Daily News - August 31, 2010 - By Daniel Beekman

Monday, August 30, 2010

State Judge Upholds Temporary Restraining Order In Park Artist Fight

July 19, 2010. An artist's depiction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg stomping on rights protected under the the Constitution. (photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.


A State Supreme Court justice on Monday upheld last week’s ruling blocking the city from limiting the number of art vendors in the parks, according to the New York Times.

The justice, Milton A. Tingling, denied the city’s request to drop a temporary restraining order that had been granted to the artists that prevented the parks and the city from enforcing the rules pending a hearing on a suit filed by the artists. A date for that hearing is supposed to be set on Tuesday.

The rules, imposed by the city in July, limit vendors in the public spaces to a set number of spots marked off with medallions that say “Expressive Matter Vendor.” Opponents of the rules saythey create an unconstitutional restraint on artists’ free speech. The medallions are also awarded first come first served, which puts older or physically challenged artists at a disadvantage, lawyers for the artists said.

The latest ruling means that street vendors can keep selling their wares in and around Central Park, Battery Park, Union Square Park and the High Line without fear of repercussion until further notice.

Read More:

Art Sales to Continue,  for Now, in Parks
New York Times City Room - August 30,  2010  - By  Cate Doty 

A Walk In The Park - August 27, 2010 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Man Dies In Rockaway Beach Drowning After Apparent Heart Attack


Brooklyn man died after he was pulled out of the water off Rockaway Beach Saturday, cops said, according to the New York Daily News.

Lifeguards jumped into the ocean near Beach 147th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. near Jacob Riis Park when they saw Mark DiPalma, 50, in distress about 1 p.m., police said.

DiPalma - who lives in Bay Ridge - was rushed to Peninsula Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It was not immediately clear what caused his distress, but sources said the lifeguards knew DiPalma - who swam in the area frequently - had a medical condition.

The medical examiner will determine an exact cause of death, but sources said it appears DiPalma had a heart attack.

At least three people have died off the New York coast this year. Among those was Oscar Cruz, 22, of the Bronx, who was swept away by the riptides in Rockaway last month.

Read More:

Brooklyn man, 50, swimming at Rockaway Beach dies after apparent heart attack
New York Daily News - August 29th 2010 - By Joe Kemp

Care Given To Dangerous Trees In Central Park Slow

August 6, 2010 - Central Park. A private landscape company hired by the Central Park Conservancy prunes trees near the bridal path on the West side of the park.  (photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

According to documents obtained by the New York Post, numerous delays were found in tending to dangerous trees in Central Park. Parks Department spokesperson Vickie Karp told the paper that the Central Park Conservancy was not required to give the reporter the information requested for her report on tree safety.


Trees labeled by the Central Park Conservancy as dangerous often go untended for months, sometimes with deadly results, records obtained by The Post show.

In one case, a pest-infected tree on the verge of dropping heavy branches onto a pedestrian walkway was slated for removal -- twice -- but nothing was done. In February, seven months after the initial warnings, a limb from the tree struck and killed an Albanian immigrant, Elmaz Qyra.

The unheeded warnings are documented in a voluminous database -- provided only grudgingly after weeks of questioning by The Post -- of 13,867 Central Park trees. The conservancy, a private organization tasked by the city with maintaining Central Park, "didn't even have to give you this report," a Parks Department spokeswoman said. Yet taxpayers will shoulder the cost of the multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed in the two deaths and two serious injuries that have occurred in the park because of falling tree limbs in the past 13 months.

The first major incident happened in July 2009, when Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn was hit by a 100-pound oak limb, suffering brain and spinal-cord damage. Conservancy records show that tree had been inventoried in December 2007, but no inspections or work on the tree were recorded until after he was injured.

The accident reversed what had been a trend of the conservancy spending less and less on tree maintenance. Funding for care had dropped to $282,450 in the fiscal year ending June 2009, from $472,352 two years before. It jumped back up to $386,698 in the fiscal year ending in June. From July 2008 to June 2009, meanwhile, the conservancy performed 3,941 maintenance tasks on its trees, records show. In the year after Blair-Goldensohn's injury, the number of maintenance tasks soared to 14,245.

Karla del Gallo, 33; Gianna Ricciutti, 6 months

Karla del Gallo, 33, and her six-month-old baby Gianna Ricciutti, who was killed by a fallen tree limb in Central Park. (photo: Robert Miller)  

Read More:

New York Post - August 29, 2010 - By Kathianne Boniello

Friday, August 27, 2010

State Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Parks Dept. Over New Artist Vending Rules

"The State Supreme Court, and now the Appellate Division, have spoken, and recognized that the City’s regulations expose the artists to irreparable harm, specifically the loss of their right to freedom of expression. The regulations also violate New York State and New York City human rights law, and contradict the Local Laws and the Administrative Code of the City of New York." - Jon Schuyler Brooks, a Phillips Nizer litigation partner. 

On Wednesday, a state judge State Supreme Court Justice Martin Schoenfeld issued a temporary restraining order against the City and the Parks Department from enforcing parts of the new park vending rules for artists for 5 days. According to lawyer Phillips Nizer, who's representing this group of visual artists pro bono, the TRO, forbids the Mayor and the other defendants from using the new regulations to limit number of the visual artists and the locations from which they vend. 

According to Robert Lederman, a plaintiff  another lawsuit - one of the three filed so far - the injunction prevents the Parks Dept. from enforcing the decal marked spots and the numerical limit on artists but does not prevent the City from enforcing the new restrictions in the new rules on distance from trees, monuments, benches, the width of a sidewalk and exigent circumstances.

The sides will be back in court on August 30 to hear whether the judge will extend the injunction. 

On July 19, 2010 a phalanx of Park Enforcement Officers stood guard in Union Square Park (photo above) on the first day the new artist vending rules went into effect. Seventeen Parks Department uniform security personnel were counted  near the artists protesting the new rules.  The Bloomberg administration has increasingly chosen to use the sparse resources of PEP in their its against artists working in parks instead of providing an increased uniform security presence in parks to prevent crime. (photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.) Click on image to enlarge.


A group of artists has won a temporary restraining order against the Department of Parks and Recreation, blocking the department from enforcing part of its new rules limiting where artists can sell their First Amendment-protected material in four Manhattan parks, according to The Villager.

Under the injunction, signed on Wednesday by State Supreme Court Justice Martin Schoenfeld, as of Thursday morning Aug. 26, the Parks Department will not be allowed to enforce the rules governing the designated locations and the first-come, first-served basis on which artists may vend “expressive matter.” The injunction will last at least until Monday morning Aug. 30 when Justice Schoenfeld will hear arguments and decide on the next step.

The most recent action was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan earlier this month after “expressive matter” vendors failed in the first one in federal court to obtain a preliminary injunction against the new rules.

The state court lawsuit filed by Jon S. Brooks on behalf of Artists United is similar to the first one, which is still pending despite Federal Judge Richard Sullivan’s denial of a preliminary injunction.

The new action also seeks a temporary injunction, pending a permanent ban, against the new rules that went into effect July 19, contending they are unconstitutional and have resulted in discrimination against women, the elderly and handicapped artists.

According to the rules, the artists may only vend in a specific number of spaces marked by small medallions on the pavement at Union Square Park, Battery Park, High Line Park and parts of Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the East 80s down to Columbus Circle.

The spots are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. But the new suit says it is impossible to determine which artists came first to be entitled to a space.

“Expressive-matter vendors have been spending the night on the perimeter areas of the restricted parks…and have been faced with intimidating conflicts with other expressive-matter vendors over who arrived first at particular designated spots,” the suit says. Consequently, the new rules “have resulted in a ‘survival of the fittest’ system which has a discriminatory effect on women, the elderly and the physically infirm who are unable to fairly compete with others for the designated spots,” according to court papers.

Read More:

Art vendors suit: Regs are unfair to women,  elderly,

The Villager - August 26, 2010 -  By Albert Amateau

New York Times City Room - August 26,  2010 - By Cate Doty

Bloomberg, Benepe, Parks Department And City Slapped With Temporary Restraining Order

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Markowitz's Hoping to Continue To Use "Chain Gang" For Concert Series

Prisoners from Rikers Island have been assembling and disassembling the thousands of chairs used in the summer concerts at Asser Levy Park as part of a labor assignment.  Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz said he began using prison labor as a cost saving measure after singer Curtis Mayfied sued when he was paralyzed in 1990 when stage lighting equipment fell on him during a Markowitz sponsored concert at Wingate Field.


Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's chain gang isn't on death row yet, according to the New York Post.

Both the Beep and the city Department of Corrections today shot down a published report claiming DOC is cutting the cord next year on supplying Rikers Island inmates to set up tables and chairs at Markowitz’s annual summer concerts series in Coney Island and East Flatbush.

Debra Garcia, who runs the nonprofit group that organizes the concerts, said it plans to “seek assistance again” in 2011 from city inmates. If that fails, it would try tapping into free labor from state or federal inmates.

DOC spokesman Sharman Stein declined to say whether the Riker’s Island inmates would be offered next year because the Beep's concert promoters have yet to formally ask about 2011, but she added “we were happy to help this year.”

Garcia said she has not been informed that the city prisoners won't be available next year.

The concerts, held at Asser Levy Park in Coney Island and Wingate Park in East Flatbush, had quietly relied on state prisoners for nearly two decades until state cuts led to city inmates being tapped this year.

The practice of bussing in inmates suddenly became controversial after it was adopted as an issue by Brighton Beach residents fighting a planned new $64 million amphitheater at Asser Levy Park, fearing it will attract bigger, nosy crowds.

Residents also said the Riker’s inmates bright red-and-white-striped jumpsuits made them stick out, causing some concern about safety issues.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is hoping to  continue to use prison labor for his two concert series.  (Image: The Brooklyn Paper "Chain Gang" cartoon - August 19, 2010)

Read More:

Markowitz hoping to keep his chain gang for concerts series
New York Post - The Brooklyn Blog - August 26, 2010 -  By Rich Calder

The Brooklyn Paper - August 19, 2010  

A Walk In The Park - August 16, 2010 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Parks Department Neglect

An area near the entrance to the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground (aka Martins Field) is strewn with smelly, unsightly, unmaintained vegetation. On Monday trash was strewn across a plaque honoring the 500 to 1,000 blacks and American Indians buried there in the 19th century after dying of small pox and cholera. The city renamed Martins Field, Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, in December to honor the remains of African Americans and native Americans who had been buried there more than 100 years ago.  (Photo by Connor Adams Sheets)


It’s the middle of August and the grass has turned brown in many of Flushing’s outdoor spaces from Kissena Park to Flushing Cemetery, according to Fresh Meadows Times.com.

But the grass and foliage at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, known until December 2009 as Martins Field, is in particular disrepair.

On Monday evening, piles of rotting, pungent vegetation greeted visitors just inside the ground’s gates, grass and shrubs were sunburned and dead, caution tape encircled most trees. Trash was strewn across a plaque honoring the 500 to 1,000 blacks and American Indians buried there in the 19th century after dying of small pox and cholera.

That state of disrepair does not sit well with Mandingo Tshaka, the Bayside community activist who was instrumental in getting the site renamed to reflect the honor of the people who were buried under what is now a city park. He is looking to encourage the city to take better care of the site.

“The Parks Department totally eradicated the history of my people and disregarded them and you’ll see it right out here in Flushing,” he said. “It’s time that this city stand up and do the right thing: Respect this cemetery.”

Located between 164th and 165th streets along 46th Avenue in Flushing, the renaming of the site was a result of a longtime effort led by Tshaka and the Martins Field Conservancy. Tshaka started advocating on behalf of the site more than two decades ago.

The burial site, which dates back to the 1840s, was known as the Colored Cemetery of Flushing and was a burial ground between 1840 and 1898.

The city, under the direction of developer Robert Moses, paved over the burial ground in 1936 to build a playground and pool at the site, in violation of city law, and the name was changed to Martins Field. In 2006, the city performed $2.7 million in renovations at the burial ground, such as adding a steel picket fence, new sidewalks and a playground with a commemorative plaque.

“The city never apologized for what it did,” Tshaka said in December 2009. “They left the remains exposed.”

Read More:

Fresh Meadows Times.com. - August 19, 2010 - By Connor Adams Sheets 

Queens Times Ledger -  December 31, 2009 -  By Nathan Duke

Park Activist Says No To Brookville Park Party

Last year the Parks Department spent hours cleaning up the mess left behind after a family day picnic in Brookville Park. Fred Kress, president of the Queens Coalition for Parks, sent a letter to the Parks Department asking it not to allow the annual family day party at the park this Saturday. Last year’s event, which was co-hosted by state Assemblywoman Michelle Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Jacques Leandre, who was running for City Council last year, left the park in a state of disarray with crews picking up trash for hours the day afterward.


Last year a family day at Brookville Park turned into an out-of-control bash where liquor was sold and liter was spread all over the southeast Queens greenspace,  according to YourNabe.com.

An advocate for the park is calling on the city to not let that happen again this year.

Fred Kress, president of the Queens Coalition for Parks, sent a letter to the city Parks Department asking it not to allow party promoter June Balloon to hold his fourth-annual family day at the park this Saturday. Last year’s celebration, which was co-hosted by state Assemblywoman Michelle Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Jacques Leandre, who was running for City Council last year, left the park in a state of disarray with crews picking up trash for hours the day afterward.

“I expect Parks to protect our parks from animals — both two- and four-legged,” Kress wrote in his letter.

This year’s celebration, which is not sponsored by Titus and Leandre, was advertised on the social networking website Facebook and had dozens of people invited. The flier included on the Facebook page said there would be musical performances, food, games and face painting for children.

This was not the fun that took place during last year’s picnic Aug. 22.

Someone set up a table that advertised “open bar, ladies only” and sold alcohol to parkgoers. The party went on long after its 7 p.m. closing time, and when the parks manager went to the greenspace the next morning, it was filled with empty bottles, discarded food and sexually explicit pamphlets.

Kress and other advocates arrived at the park to see the damage firsthand and saw Balloon and Titus’ husband, Eric DeBerry, arguing with the parks manager, saying they did nothing wrong.

Read More:

YourNabe.com - August 19, 2010 - By Ivan Pereira 

Parks Department "JTP" Raped In St. Andrew's Playground While Working

A female Parks Department Job Training Participant (JTP) employee was sexually assaulted by a man armed with a box-cutter in a bathroom in St. Andrews Playground on Thursday morning at approx. 9:00am, according to the police. The single mom of three was slashed during the assault according to reports. The Police are searching for a black male, 22 to 25 years old, approximately 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds. (Sketch above) The suspect was wearing a black boonie hat, a red shirt with a white logo, red and white Nike sneakers and riding a small red mountain bicycle. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577 TIPS (8477). All calls are strictly confidential. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Last month three people were shot in St. Andrews Playground, one fatally, during a basketball game.

A city employee was sexually assaulted at a park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn Thursday morning, according to a report by WABC News.

The victim was cleaning a public bathroom when a man rushed in and attacked her.

It happened at St. Andrew's Playground in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section around 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

At that time, there was a park full of people, but no hint of a scream or distress.

"I think if we had heard her screaming a lot of us would have gone over there. I'm not the only guy that feels that way. We try to keep a safe neighborhood," said Robert Shaw, an eyewitness.

Police say a 29-year-old Parks Department employee couldn't cry out because her rapist covered her mouth.

As Robert Shaw played basketball at St. Andrews Playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant, he watched a crime scene go up around him, with white and blue tape, a swarm of officers, and an innocent victim.

"I seen her coming out on the stretcher, she was over there, all bloodied up. The police came. The ambulance came," Shaw said.

As the custodial worker started her shift, police say the suspect approached her from behind in a utility closet near the restrooms and closed the door behind him.

He started to beat hit her, and pulled out either a knife or box cutter, and then raped her.

Sources say this park employee stopped the rape when they knocked on the door twice, and startled the rapist, who then opened the door and fled on a bike.

A police officer stands guard outside the St. Andrew's Playground comfort station where a Parks Department worker was raped on Thursday morning. The victim was treated at Kings County Hospital, where doctors stitched up gashes on her arm. The playground is located btw. Atlantic Avenue and Herkimer St. & Kingston Avenue and St. Andrews Place. (Image: WCBS)

Read/View More:

City worker sexually assaulted in Brooklyn park Friday
WABC News - August 20, 2010 - By Dara Miles

New York Times City Room - August 19, 2010 - By Karen Zraick

New York Daily News - August 19, 2010 - By Ryan Strong and Jonathan Lemire

WCBS - August 20, 2010

NY1 News - August 20, 2010

New York Post - August 21, 2010 By Lorena Mongelli, Jamie Schram and Erin Calabrese

A Walk In The Park - July 1, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parks Department Asking The Public To Water Its Street Trees

The financially strapped Parks Department is now asking the public and business owners to water Parks' owned street trees. 


New York City's parks department is asking residents and business owners to help water and take care of trees on the street, according to the Associated Press. via CRAIN'S

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said trees need approximately 20 gallons of water each week.

He said trees also help keep New Yorkers cooler by lowering the temperature and cleaning the air of pollution.

The city plans to plant one million new trees by 2017 through its MillionTreesNYC initiative. More than 375,000 have already been planted.  

Read More:

Parks Department urges businesses and residents to nuture tress along streets to help keep city cool and lower air pollution
AP via CRAIN'S  - August 19, 2010 

Markowitz Concerts Significantly Violate New City Sound Law: Mayor Goes Back On Promise

July 29, 2010 - Asser Levy/Seaside Park. City employees, and a private audio consultant take decibel measurements outside the concert.  (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on photos to enlarge.


Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz concert series at Asser Levy/Seaside Park significantly violated the new sound code.  According to sound readings taken at the July 29th concert the music exceeded the "typical ambient sound level of 57.8 dBa by 20-32 dBA, far higher then the 'under-10 dBA' specified by law."

The new sound law provides that sound attributable to a sound devise "shall not exceed a level of 10 dB (a) or more above the ambient sound level as measured at a distance of 15 feet from the point on the perimeter upon which structure is located that is closest to the sound device or apparatus."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs sent a letter to the City's Corporation Council on August 3, 2010 with a report of the results.  "As the testing results contained in the enclosed report demonstrate, the sound level at the July 29th concert significantly violated the Code, as amended."  The August 3rd letter asked what the City's plans were regarding the continued use of Asser Levy Park in violation of the Code's amplified sound restrictions. The letter also provided the Mayor with the opportunity to stand behind his commitment to cancel any future concerts if they violated the new sound code as he stated on July 12th. 

On July 12 at City Hall Mayor Bloomberg said, "I can promise you that I will at city expense make sure that the standards in this bill as passed by the City Council are followed.    If in the middle of a concert that's going on and its too loud no we're not stop the concert but they will not have another one. I think that's a fair thing.  We don't need a riot we don't need people to be so disappointed but I empress on the borough president  that we are deadly serious and we're going to enforce this."  

The City admitted the concerts violated the new sound law on multiple nights in an August 11, 2010 letter from the City's Law  Department to the plaintiff's attorneys. "...readings taken by City personnel during the performances on July 29 and August 5th indicated sound levels above the permitted level on a number of occasions during the hours of worship identified by the plaintiffs. This information has likewise been conveyed to the Mayor's office."  

In a stipulation between the City and the Plaintiffs, the City has agreed that the promoter must present a plan to the City detailing the specific steps it will take to ensure compliance with the law for the remaining two concerts to be held on August 19th, and 26th.  A copy of the promoter's plan must be delivered no later than 5:00pm two days before the remaining concerts. 

The City is required to monitor the concerts before and during the concerts. According to the agreement,  if the promoter exceeds the permitted levels prior or during the concerts  and if after being informed does not take immediate measures to correct it, the City will consider terminating the concert, subject to safety concerns. The agreement further stipulates that If the promoter exceeds the permitted levels and the conditions are not immediately corrected on the 19th,  the City will not authorize the future use of amplified sound by the promoter in 2010, whereby canceling the August 26th concert.  

"I am so disillusioned with the Mayor," said plaintiff Ida Sanoff.  "Everyone who attended the bill signing believed that he would do as he said - stop the concerts if they violated the law. But instead, he's just giving us the run around. I guess it's another example of the old boys network - Bloomberg is letting his good buddy Markowitz get away with everything."

"I am extremely upset over our Borough President flouting of the law, "  said Mendy Sontag, president of the Sea Breeze Jewish Center. "I am extremely saddened that the Mayor of the greatest city in the United States has broken his promise to make our politicians adhere to our laws."

July 29, 2010 - Asser Levy/Seaside Park 


A lawsuit was filed on June 17, in Brooklyn Supreme Court on behalf of two synagogues seeking to prevent the City of New York and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz from violating a long-time law forbidding amplified concerts within 500 feet of a house of worship, schools, hospitals, and courthouses. On June 29th, 2010, the City Council passed a bill which excluded Asser Levy/Seaside Park from the law.  The bill to change the existing law was hastily introduced by Queens Council Member Peter Vallone at the request of Mayor Bloomberg  The amendment was a clear end-run around the existing law.  Since 1991 Mr. Markowitz has sponsored an annual concert series in Asser Levy/Seaside Park, in Brighton Beach Brooklyn.

In violation of the law, these concerts have coincided with the hours of worship of Plaintiff Congregation Sea Breeze Jewish Center and with the hours of worship of Plaintiff Congregation Temple Beth Abraham. The two synagogues are approx. 300 feet away.

The suit was brought against defendants the City of New York and Brooklyn Borough President, Martin Markowitz, with regard to the violation of Title 10, Chapter 1, Section 10-108 (g) of the New York City Administrative  Code, and Title 38, Chapter 8, Section 8-06 of the Rules and Regulations of the City of New  York (together, the “Code”), which prohibit the use of electronic sound amplification equipment  at any location within 500 feet of  houses of worship during hours of worship.  Plaintiffs are directly and adversely affected by the Defendants’ annual operation of the Parks Department band shell in Asser Levy Park, which comes within 500 feet of Plaintiffs’ houses of worship, as a concert and event venue using electronic  sound amplification equipment.

Electronic sound amplification equipment is used during the concerts. Mayor Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz want to build a $64 million, eight thousand seat amphitheater in Asser Levy/Seaside Park, right across the street from Sea Breeze Jewish Center and Temple Beth Abraham. 

Read More: 

The Brooklyn Paper - August 25, 2010  - By Stephen Brown 

New York Post - August 19, 2010 - By Rich Calder