Welcome to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives
Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival
THE WOODSTOCK SITE
Hurd & West Shore Rds
|The Woodstock Preservation Alliance
PO Box 216
Olyphant PA 18447
|March 6, 2003
Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau
Peebles Island State Park
PO Box 189
Waterford, NY 12188-018
ATTN: Kathleen LaFrank
This letter is a follow-up to our telephone conversation of March 5, 2003. Enclosed please find a complete copy of the application document submitted to the National Trust for nomination of the original Woodstock site to America's 11 Most Endangered Places for 2003.
In addition, please allow me this opportunity to give you a little past and current history of the WPA, and attempt to provide a better understanding of our concerns.
As stated in our most recent press release (see Addendum 2/25/03), and as you well know, an application for nomination was submitted to the NT in January, with the list to be announced in late May. Up to that point, the WPA, who has an active contributing membership of about 50, with many more quiet supporters, played by all of the rules which included the submission of petitions, letters, and comments regarding the zoning changes and acceptance of plans by the Town of Bethel for the Performing Arts District. The WPA now, along with nominating the site to the endangered list would like to attempt completing the application to have the site placed on the National Register as an Historic Landmark. You ask why the WPA is doing this now? We say, "why not now?" The WPA has come a long way from a group of enthusiastic Woodstockers to a new core group of preservationists and activists. The Gerry Foundation brushed off the WPA founders as hippies and “enthusiasts” and dismissed the WPA as "insignificant", and this has been the perception by many, and I believe, has precluded the efforts of the WPA since the beginning, and has followed us to the present. The current primary advocates for the site are “not” hippies, or Woodstock enthusiasts, but activists who are attempting to use the system to get the tough questions answered.
We (WPA) have attempted to speak one on one with the Gerry Foundation for over the past two years with little success or impact. We are now seeking accountability on the part of GF, as we feel that Bethel, Sullivan County and NY State have been railroaded by well calculated plans by the Gerry Foundation to "do what they will" to the site with little serious concern for outside input. It is documented in the SEQRA that GF plans to move towards registration of the Woodstock site with the NRHP within 10 or more years. As we know, by that time, most or all of the development on the site will be complete. In the EIS, GF states that should National Registration be pursued, all interested stakeholders (which would include the WPA) would be brought to the table to discuss plans prior to any modifications to the site. If GF begins the process in 10 years, there will be no need for anyone to go to the table, as the damage will have been done. We assume that this is GF’s plan, as they will have completed their development plus added a veil of legitimacy to their development by placing the site, in its developed state, on the National Register. We know that the Woodstock site was investigated by GF and deemed eligible for Registration. As we know, GF was awared $15+ million from the state for the project. The WPA finds it interesting that following a significant contribution made by Alan Gerry to the State Republicans, GF received $7 million from Republican Governor George Pataki, and $7 million from NY State Republican Senator Bonacic. Sounds a bit like one hand washing the other. Currently, the WPA's focus has been funding. We are interested in information that would lead us to federal agencies responsible for contributing money. We have requested from Glenn Pontier, GF Director of Communications, disclosure for the sources of the funds provided. The WPA truly believes that the GF does not want any agencies at the State or National level to be questioning their motives. We hope through our efforts that this indeed will happen.
The WPA as of 2/10, submitted in writing, a request to Jonathon Drapkin, Executive Director of GF, to allow us to proceed with the application for the National Register. We wish to file this application regardless of permission. - "During the time the proposed nomination is reviewed by the SHPO, property owners and local officials are notified of the intent to nominate. Local officials and property owners are given the opportunity to comment on the nomination and owners of private property are given an opportunity to object to or concur with the nomination." - This statement is taken from NRHP website. The Gerry Foundation has never thought highly of the WPA, and as I said before, we are looked at as "insignificant" so we may never receive an answer to our request, for or against. But if we completed that application, and as it so states - SHPO would notify the owners of this nomination. Not wanting to pass-the-buck, but if you (SHPO) confronted the Gerry Foundation to inform them of this action, I believe they would not ignore you, and whatever that answer may be, there would, at least, be an answer. Given that GF has already accepted NY State taxpayers’ money, and possibly federal monies to the amount of $15+ million, we feel that blocking our application will amount to nothing more than the height of hypocracy and corporate cover-up. We have yet to receive any correspondence from either Mr. Drapkin or Mr. Pontier. They do have a period of time to respond, so we eagerly await word from them.
GF has done well to keep all of the stakeholders at bay and keep the issues out of the limelight. The WPA has been working diligently to weaken this strategic positioning of GF. Along with the near 1000 page nomination document for the Endangered Places list, and working towards garnering support at the State and National level, we have been fortunate to be provided with consultation from Dr. Michael Doyle Ph.D. from Ball State University, who was contracted by GF to author the Historical and Social Significance of the Woodstock Site section of the EIS. He has provided a great deal of guidance. He, himself has declared that GF went back on a statement made to him and his collegues, that the sight would be left untouched. He has come forward formally to state that development of the site would be detrimental to the venture. We have also received guidance from Dr. James Glass, former State Preservation Officer from Indiana. Of significance to "Woodstock" itself, WPA supporter Michael Wadleigh, who won an academy award in 1970 for the "Woodstock" documentary, is appalled at the plans for the site and how GF’s plans were kept away from influential and interested parties that included himself. (This e-mail is included in the application document pg. 2-21) He, along with influential photographer Lisa Law lent support letters for the Endangered Places application.
We are indeed concerned with how far Allan Gerry’s influential tentacles spread at State and Federal levels and whether he will use his influence to hold back our attempts to create accountability.
We feel that GF should be made accountable to ALL of the stakeholders who are interested in the preservation of the Woodstock site. They made claims that the core activities buildings had to be moved onto the Woodstock site because of bedrock and wetlands. Although the WPA, as serious preservationists, are in favor of all environmental preservation, if you were to look at the original site of the core buildings on the property adjacent to the site, the wetlands are minimal. If you were to look at the rest of the acreage available, there is plenty of available land surrounding the Woodstock site where the buildings can be placed, without interfering with the wetlands. As far as bedrock goes, the Catskills foothills are completely made of bedrock no matter where you dig, so that reasoning seems thin at best.
Having the site Registered seems to be "only a formality". The question is "Will GF allow it to happen?" Do they want the state and federal preservation authorities questioning their plans? Do they want to take $15+ million in NY state taxpayers’ money and do what they want to this globally significant landmark, without being accountable to interested stakeholders; especially at a time when $1.24 billion has been cut from the state budget in areas such as education?
You may ask what the WPA will do if we are unsuccessful in our attempts for registration through denial of permission from GF. Well, we will let the good people of Sullivan County know what is going on. The WPA also stays the course and continues to lobby the State and National agencies to listen to us and demand accountability from GF. We can guarantee GF that if they want to work together with us, we will do so openly. The efforts to preserve the site from unnecessary development, to create a Performing Arts Center that will attract and not detract visitors, will go on long after the first shovel goes into the site.
Kathleen, I hope this helps to shed some light and gives you a better understanding of the goals and concerns of Woodstock Preservation Alliance.
I thank you for your time, your attention, and most of all your help.
Joanne Hague (WPA Board of Directors)
1023 Lincoln Avenue
Blakely PA 18447