By CHRIS CONROY
BETHEL — Every August the Town of Bethel board
finds itself at odds with thousands of tourists who flock to reclaim
the “Woodstock Spirit.”
Potential litigation was the main topic of conversation
at executive sessions that stretched well into the night both at
a special town board meeting called days before the mid-August weekend
and on August 22. While the board members can discuss no details,
one thing has been made clear: they are tired of going through the
same thing year after year.
“It’s a question of cost vs. benefit,” said Councilman
Lyndon Lilley on the matter of litigation. “We spend a lot of money
[on this topic].”
“Every year it’s the same thing,” said Town of
Bethel Supervisor Allan Scott. “A lot of this trouble could be avoided.
If all the rules are followed, I’m sure something could be worked
out.” What needs to happen, according to Scott, is for the other
side to come forward and work with the town.
That “other side” is composed mainly of fans and
veterans of the original Woodstock concert of 1969. Without fail,
for the past 32 years, thousands have flocked to the Hurd Road site
to get a taste of what they call “The Woodstock Spirit.”
In previous years, litigation has been directed
at Roy Howard, who has staged political rallies at the old Yasgur
Farmhouse that he and Geryl Abramson own. In 1994, concert promoter
Sid Bernstein found himself locking legal horns with the town.
Talking to some who came to this year’s impromptu
“yard sale,” which took place on Howard and Abramson’s property
and may lead to continued litigation against them, it seems the
“other side” is tired of the confrontation too.
“I think we can work together [with the town board]”
said Bob Parnicky, webmaster for Muthatheresa.com,
one of the more prominent Woodstock-focused discussion boards. Members
of that discussion group helped to organize the Woodstock Preservation
that has been working with the Gerry Foundation, regarding plans
for the original concert site which it purchased in 1998.
Calls for ideas have already gone out on Parnicky’s
website. Discussions of the legal process that would have to be
followed in order to hold an official event have sprung up and a
handful of board regulars have been holding discussions on the topic.