arts center draws a crowd
By CHRIS CONROY
BETHEL - Participation
in the process is alive and well in Bethel.
9, over 50 concerned individuals gathered beneath increasingly cloudy
skies at the monument to the historic Woodstock concert of 1969.
Their goal was to figure out what they could do to keep the historic
rolling green hills from becoming the foundation for GF Entertainment's
proposed $40 million performing arts center (PAC).
against the PAC," said Bob Parnicky. "We just don't want it built
on the original concert site."
the webmaster for MuthaTheresa.com,
the website where the idea for the Saturday afternoon meeting came
together. The concerns put forth on the site have reached far and
wide since they surfaced less than a week ago. "We've gotten a lot
of international hits [to the site] recently," Parnicky said.
the crowd was all for the idea of a PAC in Bethel. More important
than the building itself, though, was the preservation of the natural
amphitheater where the original concert took place. One of the ideas
proposed during the open discussion was that Alan Gerry, the patriarch
of GF Entertainment, should build the PAC on land adjoining the
original site and leave the main piece of history alone.
"If he keeps
the [original] site, he can have two venues," said one participant.
Many of those
who came together to speak their minds had traveled more than a
little bit to get to Woodstock. Some came from New York City, others
from as far away as Connecticut. They had all heard about the meeting
through the Internet.
In a show of
technological solidarity, posters to the
MuthaTheresa.com website were encouraged to vote in The
River Reporter Online poll conducted the week of August
31. Unfortunately, the results printed in last week's TRR were
gathered before many of them had cast their votes. By the time the
website was updated on Thursday, September 7, participation in the
poll had more than doubled and the results had changed dramatically.
In the end, 61.5 percent of respondents were against the construction
of the PAC on the original site and 32.33 percent were in favor.
the ideas presented at the meeting and, serving as impromptu chairman
of the quickly coalescing group, called for definite resolutions.
The first resolution
gave the group a name. Utilizing the pre-existing "Friends of Yasgur's
Farm" moniker, the group then proceeded to define what it would
do to get the word out.
the gathered members to go for that goal but to be realistic and
sensible. "If we come off as flaky, we're going to be dismissed,"
The plan of
action calls for Gerry to be notified by mail, e-mail and by the
delivery of a petition requesting that the original concert site
be kept free of construction. A hope of many of the Friends of Yasgur's
Farm is that the 37.5 acres of the original site can be made completely
free for all to enjoy. In a printed statement from The Woodstock
Nation Foundation, the call was made for the site to be "kept open,
unfenced and undeveloped."
As of now,
GF Entertainment has made no official announcement of where the
PAC will be built. Before that decision is finalized, there will
be opportunities for public feedback. Any building proposal will
have to go through the Town of Bethel Planning Board review and
approval process which includes a public hearing.
are going to be used [to build the PAC]," Parnicky said. "Gerry
should be held to a higher standard." The only way to ensure that,
he pointed out, is through participation in the process.
Now, it's a
waiting game. "We have to give Gerry a chance to respond," Parnicky
has the opportunity to be a hero," Parnicky said. "Not many people
get that chance."