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BETHEL, NY-Details of a Performing Arts Center development to be built on property surrounding the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival was unveiled to a joint meeting of the Bethel Town Board and Planning Board yesterday (June 12). As of yet, the cost and the scope of the development of the remainder of the Master Plan have yet to be ascertained. The project will be housed on 40 acres inside the 634.79-acre site.

The project developer, the Gerry Foundation, unveiled a master plan that would include a Performing Arts Pavilion featuring 3,500 covered seats in an open-air pavilion and accommodations for lawn seating of another 14,000 patrons. In addition, the plan calls for the future construction of a Performance Hall that would seat approximately 1,000; a School for the Performing Arts, an interactive museum called “The Music Experience”; an Inn and Conference Center that would feature 250 to 300 rooms; conference facilities; and a restaurant.

Also included would be a Marketplace and Visitor’s Center that would house themed retail shops, dining, art exhibition and gallery space. The developer adds that sufficient infrastructure will have to be incorporated into the site such as the installation of electric, water and sewer lines as well as a new access road and parking.

Glenn Pontier, director of communications for the Gerry Foundation, says the organization is seeking the town of Bethel agencies to: approve a zoning amendment to create a Performing Arts Center Development District; master plan approval. It also seeks site plan approval of its Performing Arts Pavilion building.

Pontier notes that the first phase of the Performing Arts Center will be the construction of the Performing Arts Pavilion, which the foundation estimates will cost $40 million. The Gerry Foundation, spearheaded by Alan Gerry, the founder of Cablevision Industries, will be funding the Pavilion project. New York State has committed $15 million in financial assistance for the pavilion venture. Ground breaking is scheduled for next spring, with the opening of its first season slated for 2004, pending regulatory approvals.

Noted architect Richard Meier has been commissioned to design the outdoor Pavilion for the new Performing Arts Center. Meier’s has earned 15 national American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Awards and 50 New York AIA Design Awards, as well as the 1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Among his best-known designs are the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Calif., and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, Spain.

Regarding the commission, Meier said, “I am thrilled with the opportunity to design this performing arts center in a setting of such outstanding natural beauty. It will be an occasion for architecture, nature and music to meld into a perfect harmonic experience.”

The foundation has also hired the Philadelphia-based landscape architectural firm Olin Partnership to come up with a plan to preserve and commemorate the social impact the Woodstock concert had on the country. The master plan does not call for any development on the original 37.4-acre Max Yasgur’s field.

Foundation executive director Jonathan Drapkin adds, “The magic that was created at the Woodstock concert remains a very special part of our nation’s heritage. We seek to protect that spirit by creating an environment that welcomes visitors from around the world and across the country to an exciting music venue that respects its historic roots by celebrating music forever.”

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