By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE Three days of music.
Ticketed concerts with top-name acts.
Tens of thousands of expected concertgoers.
All along a former farmer’s field on Hurd Road in Bethel.
It’s not Woodstock, though it is at the famous festival site.
It’s Phish, the 25-year-old band that maintains a cross-generational and very devoted fan base.
Their three-day extravaganza at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts this coming Memorial Day weekend has already caused lodging establishments countywide to hang out the “no vacancy” shingle for May 27-29.
And that’s bringing back bad memories for Bethel Town Councilman Richard Crumley.
“I think this board should have some concern about this event,” he told his town board colleagues at Thursday’s meeting in White Lake.
Woodstock, he recalled, “was quite a fiasco it was quite a mess.”
A member of the town highway department in August 1969, Crumley spent the month after the concerts cleaning up town roads.
He remembered the tickets that were rendered moot by gate-crashers, the tens of thousands who turned into a half a million, the late realization that this would be far more than a simple folk-rock-in-a-farm-field festival.
And like other longtime Bethel residents, he’d like to never see that again especially the part where taxpayers foot the cleanup bill.
Supervisor Dan Sturm said Bethel Woods had been working closely with the township even before the concert was announced. The potentially large turnout estimated to be as much as 20,000 people each day and the resulting economic stimulus have given him reason to be happy, he said.
“You may not be afterwards,” warned Crumley. “Ask Danny Amatucci.”
(That’s Sturm’s predecessor, the supervisor of Bethel when Woodstock came to town.)
Sturm insisted all concerns will be properly addressed by the time Memorial Day arrives, and fellow Councilman Bob Blais said the town is meeting with the Sheriff’s Office this week to review traffic and security.
The town board also features a Bethel Woods employee, Denise Frangipane, who assured Crumley that Woodstock’s famous chaos won’t be repeated.
“I can tell you that we are working very, very hard to make sure this is a successful event,” she remarked, sharing Sturm’s optimism that it will help, not hurt, the entire county. “... Hopefully, we’ll be busy, and everyone will do well.”
Revealing a hot-off-the-presses info guide for concertgoers, Frangipane urged residents with questions to call Bethel Woods (1-866-781-2922) rather than speculate.
Crumley seemed unconvinced, likening Frangipane’s assurances to those once given by Woodstock organizers Michael Lang and John Roberts.
“We are not Michael Lang and John Roberts,” Frangipane replied.
“I hope you’re not,” Crumley shot back.