Group Urges Gerry To
Leave Woodstock As Is
By John Emerson
BETHEL September 12, 2000 Their goal is to save the site of a countercultural watershed event and return it to the condition it was in when the event occurred a little more than 31 years ago.
The site is a natural amphitheater of slightly more than 37 acres. The event was Woodstock, and the perceived threat is coming from Alan Gerry.
Saturday, a group of about 50 people gathered at the monument that marks the location of the Woodstock Festival to discuss Gerrys proposal to build a performing arts center at what is now known as A Day in the Garden.
It isnt that were opposed to a performing arts center, said Bob Parnicky, whose website, www.Muthatheresa.com serves as a clearinghouse for Woodstock information. This area needs the PAC, and a lot of us think its a good idea. What were opposed to is having him build it here. Hes got 1,400 acres around this site where he can build it. Were only concerned about 37 of those 1,400 acres.
If any place is a historical site, this is a historical site, said Nurse John, one of those who was in attendance. They build monuments and memorials to battlefields and wars. This was a place of peace, and that deserves a memorial, too.
Several people in the group who attended the planning session were clearly not old enough to have attended the original concert 31 years ago but were present to help preserve a piece of history. They, like thousands of others, were drawn to the location to see where history was made and vicariously experience the Woodstock vibes.
Its a spiritual thing, said Dude. Hes got an opportunity to be a hero, but he wont be if he builds the PAC on this place.
At a major press conference at the Day in the Garden/Woodstock site last month, Gerry announced plans to build a 19,000-seat, $40 million performing arts center somewhere on the land he owns surrounding the Woodstock site. The announcement was made with Governor George Pataki standing at his side and a commitment of $15 million in state money to help the project move forward.
Although the announcement was made on a flat section of land overlooking the bowl, the exact location and configuration of the arts center itself has not yet been determined. If the decision to build the PAC is to put it in some location other than the amphitheater field, the group agreed not to interfere in any way. That decision reportedly should be coming within the next 90 days.
In the meantime, the group generally agreed to give Gerry an opportunity to respond to the concerns over the site that were raised during the gathering. They also decided that they would identify the loosely knit organization as the Friends of Yasgurs Farm while maintaining a close watch on actions taken during the next several months.
He destroys his own best asset if he builds the PAC here, said Parnicky, gesturing over the open field. People come here because of what it was. We want our grandchildren to see this place the way it was meant to be seen without fences and pavement.