Welcome to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives
Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival

Hurd & West Shore Rds
Sullivan County
Bethel  NY


Ball State University
Department of History
Burkhardt Building
Munvie, IN 47306-0480
Office: 765-285-8732
Fax: 765-285-5612
Email:  mwdoyle@bsu.edu

6 January 2003

Joanne Hague
Member, Board of Directors
Woodstock Preservation Alliance
1023 Lincoln Avenue
Blakely PA 18447

 Dear Ms. Hague: 
I am writing to express my support for your organization’s opposition to the Gerry Foundation’s ill-advised plans to develop the natural amphitheater in which the original Woodstock festival was held in 1969 (not to mention many subsequent gatherings of the faithful along with the merely curious). 
In summer 2001 I was hired by Allee King Rosen & Fleming, the Manhattan-based land-use planning firm the GF employed to compile the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for its planned Bethel Performing Arts Center development. I authored the “Statement on the Historical and Cultural Significance of the 1969 Woodstock Festival Site” that was submitted last spring for review to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. GF founder Alan Gerry and his Foundation’s staff initially assured those who were interested that they had no intention of disturbing the 37.5 acre “Festival Stage Area” site; they obviously have since changed their minds. The statement I wrote could hardly have been more emphatic about the importance of preserving the site as is; my colleagues in cultural resource management with whom I worked also stressed the desirability of mitigating PAC development within the Festival Stage Area’s sight-lines as far as was practically possible. 
I followed the proceedings of the public hearings that took place in Bethel last May via the streaming video that’s posted on the website maintained by Woodstock Preservation Alliance member WayneG [accessible at http://wayneg.homepc.org/Real/Audio/LendMeYourEars.htm]. It’s pretty clear to me that the local elected officials who spoke there along with many ordinary citizens, do not understand the vital importance of holding the GF to its original promise not to alter in any substantive way the profile of the Festival Stage Area. Indeed, these same individuals were most eager to let GF have its way so as to gain economic benefit of this very popular proposed development. I’m convinced that the PAC will be built no matter what the opposition says or does, but that a compromise should be sought that minimizes the impact on -- at the very least -- the 37.5-acre field. With the surrounding 1,300+ acres the GF currently owns, it certainly seems conceivable for the PAC complex to be redesigned in such a way that would leave the Festival Stage Area in its present moderately altered state. This, I believe, should be the goal of the loyal opposition to the GF’s expressed intentions: focus on how best to negotiate a good-faith compromise with GF officials that requires them to reconfigure their 834-acre site development plan to get what they want elsewhere on their extensive property. Convince them that not only would it be a sacrilege to develop even just a portion for the Festival Stage Area, but it’s not in their economic self-interest either. What makes their real estate valuable is precisely the powerful draw that that particular site exerts on the touring and music-loving public -- the very same people they will need to attract and satisfy if their PAC is to succeed financially. It would be the height of folly to “kill the goose that laid the golden egg.” Alan Gerry should be reminded that he acknowledged as much when he told the New York Times in the presence of his friend Governor George Pataki and many thrilled local people in June 2001 that developing this special spot would be as unthinkable as building a shopping mall where Washington crossed the Delaware.” 
In solidarity with all who wish to preserve the Woodstock Festival Site as is for the enjoyment of present and future generations, I am 
Respectfully yours,
Michael Wm Doyle, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Director of the Public History Internship Program