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Seeking the
middle ground

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 Alliance (www.thewoodstockspirit.org), 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.


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