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Contributed image
A rendering of the performing arts pavilion that will be constructed. Ground breaking is scheduled for next spring, with the first concert season beginning in 2004. (Click for larger image)

The end of anticipation

By CHRIS CONROY

BETHEL — At long last, the Gerry Foundation announced its plans for the land in and around the original Woodstock site.

On June 13, Gerry Foundation (GF) officials presented a master plan for development to a joint meeting of the Town of Bethel Planning and Town Boards. Nearly 200 other people showed up to get a look at what was in store for Bethel’s most famous piece of property.

“Our goal is to interpret the Woodstock site and the land in a way that will last for years to come,” said Jonathan Drapkin, GF Executive Director.

That interpretation will take place with help from an acclaimed national team of architects, consultants and engineers. Leading the way is world-renowned architect Richard Meier, who is designing the first of the structures that will be built on the GF property: the performing arts pavilion.

The outdoor pavilion will seat roughly 3,500 spectators under the glass, steel and wood “floating” covering while providing an additional 14,000 lawn seats. The covering will only touch the ground in six places, all on the outside edges, providing a mostly unobstructed view of not only the stage, but of the surrounding fields and forests. It will be built on the former Gabriel Farm, adjacent to the original concert site.

Parking and access routes to the site will undergo some distinct changes. The existing Hurd Road, off of 17B, will still be the main access route to the site, but will eventually be supplemented by what GF maps call “New Hurd Road,” which begins roughly 1/8 of a mile east of the current road. Parking lots will be improved from the grass fields they are now, but Drapkin assured the boards that they will not be unpleasing to the eye.

Contributed image
A rendering of the outside view of the pavilion. It is designed to blend with the environment and allow near unobstructed views of both the stage and surrounding scenery. (Click for larger image)

Over the next 11 years, GF plans to continue developing the site. The master plan calls for the eventual construction of a “village” area around a man-made reflecting pool. The village will contain themed shops, an interactive music museum, secondary performance hall, exhibition gallery and visitor’s center. A performing arts school and a 250-300 room conference center/inn are also included in the long-range plans. The original site will remain largely untouched except for the installation of a permanent stage to facilitate outdoor concert venues such as the Day in the Garden concerts of 1998 and 1999.

Following the presentation of GF’s State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) form, the boards agreed that there would be some very significant impacts to the local environment due to the performing arts center. “The impact on transportation systems is probably the number one impact,” said Tom Shepstone, Bethel’s planning consultant. An increase in traffic could affect the local air quality and noise levels, the SEQR form disclosed.

Issues such as traffic, new road construction, and impact on neighbors will be fully addressed in the next step in the process, the Environmental Impact Statement.

A public scooping session on issues that will be investigated by the Environmental Impact Statement will take place at the White Lake Fire House on July 10 at 7:30 p.m.


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