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Excitement and relief at PAC plans

By CHRIS CONROY

BETHEL — The original Woodstock site is staying, more or less, as is. The performing arts center (PAC) is still coming. Is this the fulfillment of everyone’s dreams?

After the June 12 presentation by Gerry Foundation (GF) officials to a crowd of nearly 200 at the White Lake Firehouse, the public feedback has been positive.

“This is a great thing for the town,” said Town of Bethel Supervisor Allan Scott. Over the years that he has been supervisor, Scott frequently dealt with issues regarding the 37.5-acre plot of land once owned by Max Yasgur. Most notably was the drawn- out battle that occurred around 1994 when Scott faced off against Sid Bernstein and other developers’ plans to stage a large- scale concert in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the 1969 concert. Ultimately, although that concert plan fell through, people still gathered at the site for impromptu events. Now, with GF’s project moving ahead, Scott reiterates that this project is the right one for the site and the community.

The Woodstock Preservation Alliance (WPA), a grass-roots watchdog group that formed soon after GF first hinted at its development plans in August of 2000, is also happy with the announced master plan. In a released statement by the WPA, board member Carolyn Madsen said the group feels that “overall, their plan is a good one for everyone involved.” The WPA’s major concern has always been that the original site remain in the purest possible state. With all proposed development except a permanent stage going on in surrounding fields, that concern has been tremendously lessened.

Browsing through the WPA’s online message board (www.TheWoodstockSpirit.org), content indicates the group will continue to keep an eye on the project. Concerns about future development and possible plans to reconstruct or add to the monument that sits on one corner of the original site are still being discussed.

Other public concerns include the fate of the current Hurd Road, the impact traffic will have on the local population and how the eventual building of a “retail village” on the site will affect local businesses and GF’s long term plans for the site.

Herm Bressler, Chairman of the Town of Bethel Planning Board, is waiting to see the plans pan out. “I’m looking forward to this,” Bressler said when asked about his feelings on the project.

Bressler and the planning board will be dealing heavily with the potential impacts of the development, as will the Bethel Town Board. The two boards are serving as joint lead agencies in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process. Every large-scale project must undergo SEQR evaluation before it can proceed. Currently, it has been determined that the PAC project will have an impact on the local environment. More details of that impact will be discussed at a public scoping session scheduled to take place on July 10 at the White Lake Fire House.


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