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Contributed Illustration

THIS IS ARCHITECT Richard Meier’s rendering of the interior of the proposed performing arts center in Bethel.

Here's a Closer Look At
Woodstock Site Specifics

By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE — June 19, 2001 – The Gerry Foundation has been working on a master plan for the performing arts center at the Woodstock site in Bethel for several years.
Below is a roundup of the facts and figures known to date.
General Site
• 635 slightly hilly acres zoned for development of the performing arts
• Nearly 1,000 more surrounding acres that will, for the time being, remain undeveloped
• Permanent and temporary parking for at least 10,000 vehicles, if not more
• Main entrance via a new Hurd Road off Route 17B in Bethel, east of the current Hurd Road
• Main exit onto 17B near Woodstock Emporium
• Current Hurd Road to be dead-ended 1/8 of a mile short of original festival site for local traffic only, as current residents have chosen to remain where they live
• Water, sewer and new electrical services will be installed
• An administrative building will be located near the old Gabriel Farm on West Shore Road
Performing Arts Pavilion
• Cost: $40 million, with $15 million coming from the state and the rest from billionaire Alan Gerry and his foundation, based in Liberty
• Seating for 3,500 underneath a 200-foot-wide translucent-glass and wood roof without walls
• Seating for 14,000 on a sloping lawn behind the covered area
• Top-quality acoustics for concerts ranging from classical to pop rock
• Stage and at least two giant video screens
• Designed by top architect Richard Meier, it is intended to blend into the sky during the day and glow softly at night
• Concessions, restrooms and support facilities
• Located atop a small hill behind the old Gabriel Farm off West Shore Road, within easy sight and walking distance of the original festival grounds to the west
• Scheduled to open in 2004
Village Square-Type Area
• No cost figures available yet, but slated to open with pavilion in 2004
• Located on the route to the pavilion from the parking lot and situated around a small lake
• Connected to the parking lot via a pedestrian bridge that crosses Hurd Road
• 1,000-seat performance hall that, unlike the pavilion, can be utilized any time of the year
• A marketplace featuring a restaurant and perhaps several shops
• A visitors’ center with displays on other area attractions and offerings
• Exhibition space for arts and crafts
• A museum tentatively called “The Music Experience” will feature a small theater, concessions and exhibits/performances on the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival and other local and national musical offerings, both past and present
• The Fall Garden Harvest Market, a current popular offering at the festival site, will be moved here permanently
Original Site of ‘69 Festival
• 37 acres which hosted half a million people for “peace, love and music” in 1969 will remain largely as they exist now
• A permanent stage will be erected on the site of the original stage, near the current monument at the corner of Hurd and West Shore roads
• Organizers hope to stage concerts similar to the recent “Day in the Garden” performances at the site
School for the Performing Arts
• Cost and opening date are as yet unknown, though officials indicated construction at the overall site will continue through 2011
• Open initially in the summer only
• Focused on instrumental music, but possibilities include courses in voice, dance, opera and theater
• Faculty and students will either commute or stay on campus
• Rectangular and round combination of buildings will be located in southwest corner of property, behind the Woodstock Emporium
Inn/Conference Center
• Cost and opening date are as yet unknown
• 250-300 rooms available to visitors
• Conference and dining facilities included
• Wavy building located next to performing arts school
• Owner/Developer Alan Gerry, a Liberty native who made a fortune in cable television services, eventually selling his company to Time-Warner. He now serves on its board; is the head of Granite Associates, the Gerry Foundation and GF Entertainment, all based in Ferndale; and, at a net worth of more than $1 billion, is one of America’s 200 richest men, according to a recent survey. Ironically enough, one of his daughters went to Woodstock without his permission but eventually persuaded him to purchase the site in 1996 as a way to attract visitors and potential homeowners.
• Architect Richard Meier, who made his name permanently famous with the construction of his creation: the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His and his firm’s other architectural credits include several international and domestic museums, corporate headquarters, a bridge and even a church. He won the field’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, in 1984. He holds several degrees and has been awarded for his efforts many times over.
• Landscape Consultant Olin Partnership, a Philadelphia-based firm specializing in creating a harmonious balance between manmade and natural structures. Principal Cindy Sanders is heading the Woodstock effort, and their goal is not unlike that of a recent project with Independence Hall to meld historical and natural qualities with a brand new atmosphere in a three-block area. The firm has helped create numerous corporate headquarters, museums, parks and urban developments.

Quotes of Note Regarding
The Woodstock PAC

By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE — Last Tuesday’s unveiling of the master plan for the performing arts center at the Woodstock site in Bethel featured many a comment from the crowd of 200 residents and officials crammed into the White Lake Firehouse.
(Although not quoted, the presence of top officials from Sullivan County Community College, BOCES, county government and even Park Place Entertainment were noted.)
Following are some of the quotes of note:
Gerry Foundation Executive Director Jonathan Drapkin
• “Woodstock: the event that took place in 1969 means a great deal to many people. At its fundamental roots, that event will always be about the music – the opportunity for thousands of people to gather to hear music. For many, it was the music that helped to define a generation.”
• “Our project hopes to provide a world-class destination to enable people to come and hear not only music, but to be exposed to many other aspects of the performing arts. This county has had the opportunity to incubate all kinds of entertainment: from Irving Berlin through to entertainers whose careers were launched in ‘the mountains’ to the rock groups that defined music for a generation to come.”
• “Today we have the Delaware Valley Opera, the Shandelee Music Festival, the Forestburgh Playhouse, the Weekend of Chamber Music, Catskills’ IDEA, and on and on. We believe our project will provide a venue for thousands of people to experience the performing arts of Sullivan County – both within and without our destination. But it will also write another chapter in the history of this amazing County of Sullivan.”
• “Our goal is to interpret the site in the most meaningful way possible.”
Landscape Consultant Cindy Sanders (some comments are excerpted from a later interview)
• “We are concerned with the cultural and natural landscape. It is an amazing landscape.”
• “We look at circulation issues. What is the experience in walking from the parking lot? How is the pavilion revealed through that procession?”
• “As with any master plan . . . it’s a vision for the future. We need to remain flexible.”
• “The Gerry Foundation gave us some guidance . . . and asked us to be cautious. They said to us that it wouldn’t go over well to site the pavilion there [on the original festival grounds].”
• “I think it [the whole site] is extraordinarily beautiful. That is one of its overriding natural features. But until you visit, it’s not evident how beautiful the site is.”
Architect Richard Meier
• “The open face of the knoll [on which the pavilion will be built] creates almost a natural swell. It’s extraordinary, beautiful and unique.”
• “As an architect, I’m very proud to be a part of this.”
Owner/Developer Alan Gerry (as quoted in the New York Times on June 15, 2001)
• “We think this [the original site] is special land. Would you build a shopping center where Washington crossed the Delaware?”
Gerry Foundation Spokesperson Glenn Pontier (in a later interview)
• “The presence of people [residents along Hurd Road] has no effect. We’re ready to go. We have no problem with them being there.”
• “In the end, the town will decide [what happens]. This [master plan] is our recommendation.”
Town of Bethel Supervisor
Allan Scott

• “Everyone knows how very excited we are about this project. These two boards [town and planning] will be working to make sure this project gets where it needs to go.”
Bethel Development Consultant Tom Shepstone
• “[Transportation and traffic] probably will be the #1 impact [of the project]. And the pavilion will produce operating noise . . . but they [the Gerry Foundation] have been very sensitive to that. I don’t think there will be public controversy.”
Bethel Town Board Member
Bob Blais

• “It was a long time in coming, and I’m looking forward to the change. I can’t wait for this to happen in Bethel.”
18-Year Kauneonga Lake Resident Sid Buckwald
• “I think they presented themselves very well. I’d like to see it done, so the mountains can come back to where they were.”
Woodstock Site Neighbor
Clint Partridge

• “I think it’s wonderful. They’ve obviously hired some of the finest people in the world . . . and there’s the potential for growth in all areas.”
Woodstock Preservation Alliance Members Carolyn Madsen, Frank Gerchman and Peggy Beischer (who have been advocating for original site preservation)
• “We’re absolutely ecstatic about what’s happening. We’re very pleased and are looking forward to meeting with Gerry Foundation officials. We would like to see the fences come down, but how can we complain?”
• “To overly ‘sanitize’ that land would be like paving paradise to put up a parking lot. This isn’t Disney World. We thank Alan Gerry for realizing that and doing the right thing.”
Jeffersonville Resident and Woodstock Promoter Duke Devlin
• “I think it’s great! I waited 32 years for this to happen!”

Name That Center!

CALLICOON — Gerry Foundation officials are currently considering possible names for the new performing arts center in Bethel.
We’d like to let Sullivan County’s residents help them out by suggesting a few names. When completed, we’ll send the list to the foundation and see what they have to say.
So, are you up for the job?
Rules (yes, there are some!)
1. Send us your recommended name or names along with your name and some way of getting in contact with you (if we don’t get what you’re saying!).
2. Please, make ‘em legitimate and something you’re pretty sure the Gerry Foundation could use. We won’t bother sending on any names that are obviously jokes or mean-spirited.
3. We need all names by June 29. C’mon, you have no reason to procrastinate!
4. A list of all contributors’ names will be printed in a future issue of the Democrat, so if the Gerry Foundation does choose a name you picked, we’ll make sure everyone knows you helped pick it!
5. This contest is neither sponsored nor condoned by the Gerry Foundation or its associates. It is being conducted independently by the Sullivan County Democrat and features no cash awards or prizes other than that mentioned above. (And hey, getting your name in the paper’s not a bad reward!)
Send all suggestions to the Democrat, POB 308, Callicoon, NY 12723; fax them to 845-887-5386; or email them to (no phone calls, please).

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