ending or a new beginning?
No one has the right to tell another
what to do with the property he owns ---
but when the wheels of progress and
the development it promises, threatens property that holds
historic, social, and cultural value, average citizens have the
right to be involved, voice concerns and opinions, work towards
plans, and offer alternatives - in an attempt to preserve these
irreplaceable landmarks. We showed that it is possible to work
towards the protection of such properties without financial
backing or legal counsel, and it can be accomplished by "us",
the ordinary people - committed and determined - to preserve
places of global historic importance.
The property, in this case, is owned
by Alan Gerry; a wealthy, influential local area
businessman, with a vision to create a venue that will
contribute to the revitalization of rural Sullivan County NY.
He owns 1400 acres of land in Bethel, NY, which includes the
38-acre parcel known worldwide, as the original Woodstock Site.
The plans for the development of this land promise great
financial and economic growth for a much needed area, and the
importance of this project is supported at the highest levels of
State government. It has been a difficult road, as we found
ourselves up against a well beloved local philanthropist , with
the audacity to question his plans for the 38-acre piece of
history that sits in the center of that land. We could not stand
back - as the promise for Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, also
included the destruction of this 20th century icon.
We, the Woodstock Preservationists,
put forth our best efforts to impress upon the decision makers
how important, the Woodstock Site is - left untouched, in its
unaltered state. This is a global landmark, and Bethel's draw. A
site visited by thousands each year from around the world.
destruction of these 38-acres would be a tragic loss of a piece
of Americana and a detriment to the success of Bethel Woods. We
strived for the realization of co-existence - the "original"
Woodstock Site (bowl and upper plateau) housed within Bethel
Woods, making such a venue nothing less than legendary.
- We stood as strangers before the
Town of Bethel and it's government, to voice our concerns. We
brought with us the view of outsiders, from literally across the
globe - to once again impress upon the locality that they must
weigh the plausible expectations of visiting patrons to this new
venue, and whether the final appearance of the site will indeed
be congruous with those historic and sentimental expectations.
We presented valid alternatives which would prevent the
destruction of a true legacy and provide the insurance for the
fruition of another, and we struggled to make it seen by the
people of Bethel, the importance of what they hold.
- We sought the help of the National
Trust for Historic Places, and submitted an application to have
the Site nominated as one of America's Most Endangered Places,
in an effort to bring about attention.
- We were willing to assume
responsibility and move forward with the process of listing the
Woodstock Site on our
Register of Historic Places, needing only the support and
permission of Mr. Gerry for us to proceed.
- We authored "A Cause for
Preservation" which addressed the historic preservation issues,
and submitted this document to all local/state
government/agencies. As potential consultants, we intended this
to be our case file when presenting at the federal review.
only a few people, who followed every avenue and means available
to us, but faced with an insurmountable road block when federal
support was declined, closing a loophole that would have legally
required our input into the development plans, and thus bringing
our mission to an abrupt end. On one hand, we could have easily
seen this as a failure to complete our ultimate goal of one
hundred percent non-development on the Woodstock site. We are
realistic and having it all or nothing would only serve to
diminish the hard work we put forth. Ultimately, and with some
certainty, our efforts and pressure contributed to the
downsizing of the development plans for Bethel Woods by 90
percent. That meant that we were successful in realizing a 90
percent historically preserved Woodstock festival site.
So-called progress can have 10 percent if it means that 90
percent will remain true for generations to come. We feel that
our mission was not in vain, and we're honored and privileged to
have been involved in the efforts to preserve this piece of
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, is
coming at a very high price. Initially stated to be a $40
million project, including $15 million in state funding, the
cost rose to $43 million, and then to $47 million. Subsequently
in 2004, after the announced downsizing of the project - the
cost grew to $63 million and climbed to $80 million in 2005.
in the Garden" concerts, sponsored by Gerry
Foundation and GF Entertainment, were held in
1998 (pictured) and 1999. The stage area will be
kept ready and periodically will be used for
festival events of up to 30,000 people.
||The plateau above the
"concert bowl", originally slated to house a 400,000 sq.
foot complex, although encroaching on the property will
now house a scaled down, more fitting Interpretive
Centre/ museum, and events sheds.
|The original Woodstock Site is
an irreplaceable piece of modern American and global
history. An icon to a generation, and monument to peace.
It is priceless. 38-acres of value and significance that
could never be measured in dollars - just as the
altering and destruction to all of this unique global
landmark would have never been undone. Fortunately, the
little people were loud, persistent, and unwavering in
conviction. This landmark is your legacy and belongs to
you - no matter whose name is on the deed. We have
always supported the idea of bringing arts and music
back to this land and have always wished nothing but the
best for the new Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Despite new permanent structures on and around this
green place, Woodstock was not allowed to fade away
through modern complacency. In the true spirit of "power
to the people", enough of the original site will remain
so that generations will come to understand the facts,
fiction, legend, mythology, and general power of what is