new beginning for Sullivan County'
Pataki announce $40 million arts center
By DAVID HULSE
BETHEL - After
years of waiting and speculation, billionaire Alan Gerry revealed
his plans on August 29 for a $40 million performing arts center
on his properties at the original 1969 Woodstock concert site.
And with that
site as a backdrop, New York Governor George Pataki came to Bethel
on Tuesday afternoon to tell an expectant crowd of $15 million in
state funding towards the project.
million), state Senator John Bonacic ($7 million) and Assemblyman
Jacob Gunther ($1 million) all were credited, and in turn credited
one another for developing portions of the funding grant, which
is expected to fund public infrastructure associated with the project
that Bonacic described in a statement as "an outstanding public-private
is to provide $16 million of his own money, which will be combined
with the remaining $9 million expected from private contributions
of the project, to be built on the 1,400 acres Gerry has acquired
in recent years, include a covered seating area accommodating 4,000
persons with planned outdoor lawn seating for an additional 15,000.
A New York City architectural firm, Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum
is now completing the design work and Gerry said two years of construction
would begin next spring.
the center would be important economically for Sullivan County and
that the state would "benefit enormously" as well. He credited Gerry
as the driving force without which "none of this would be happening...A
lot of us try to do things for our hometowns. No one has done more
than you," he told Gerry.
appeared particularly pleased to accept drumsticks presented to
him by Levon Helm, of "The Band" who performed at the 1969 concert.
Helm thanked Pataki for bringing the center to his "backyard," where
he said "a lot of us players will find jobs."
credited Gerry, saying he has "never seen a man who wears his heart
and soul on his sleeve for his county."
the center would become "a premier destination" not only for the
Catskills but for the state. Setting his long association with efforts
to bring gambling to Sullivan aside, Gunther said, "This is the
Gerry, in turn,
thanked everyone involved and stated a simple motive. "It's all
about the people and the music. I didn't want to let it die," he
an audience of about 200 including most of Sullivan's business and
government leaders were very positive.
Most of county's
town supervisors were in attendance and all saw the spin-off benefits
for their town's tax rolls. Bethel Supervisor Alan Scott said "It's
the best thing that's ever happened to Bethel ...and Sullivan County."
"It's a new
beginning for Sullivan County," said Forestburgh supervisor and
visitors association chairman Bill Sipos.