By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Marty Markowitz is leaving office in less than two weeks, but a City Council vote that took place on Thursday will assure that he will leave a lasting legacy.
The council voted overwhelmingly to approve Markowitz’s dream project, the Seaside Park and Community Arts Center in Coney Island, an ambitious endeavor that will include the construction off a 5,000 seat amphitheater, green space and a restaurant at the former site of Childs Restaurant on West 21st Street. Specifically, the council approved a 10-year special permit to develop the property.
Markowitz, who has been organizing free concerts in Coney Island for three decades, dating back to his days as a state senator, lauded the council’s vote. The project is “a landmark achievement for the future of Coney Island and the entirety of Brooklyn,” he said.
The council vote allowed Markowitz to enjoy a final public policy victory before he vacates his office on Dec. 31 after 12 years of serving as borough president.
The Bensonhurst Bean called the council’s action “a parting gift” to Markowitz.
But the entertainment and dining venue is more than just a victory for music lovers and foodies, according to Markowitz, who said the project will stimulate the economy.
“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 borough president said. “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."
The development of the area will have long-term positive effects on Coney Island, he predicted.
“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,” Markowitz said. “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."
To pave the way for the project, the council passed resolutions that included the creation of a special zoning district, the acquisition of land between West 21st and West 22nd streets, and the elimination of the street between West 22nd Street and West 23rd Street, the Bensonhurst Bean reported.
In his statement, Markowitz thanked several city officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island). He also thanked Community Board 13 leaders, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Emeritus Seth Pinsky, current EDC President Kyle Kimball and his former chief of staff Carlo Scissura, now president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Scissura called the council’s action “yet another step in the transformation of Coney Island.”
The amphitheater “will make Coney Island New York City’s top destination for family entertainment -- and not just in the summer, but all year around,” Scissura wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle.
“It will help grow the local economy, create jobs and increase the number of visitors to Brooklyn from all over the country and the world,” he wrote.
In a nod to his former boss, Scissura wrote that he thrilled “that a project near and dear to Borough President Marty Markowitz will be realized in the next two years.”