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Quiet meeting, big results


BETHEL, NY — There was no yelling, no controversy, and no abrupt ending, just decisions that impact the future of the town.

At their December 12 meeting, the Bethel Town Board completed their part in the approval process for the proposed Gerry Foundation performing arts center at the original Woodstock site by creating a provision in the town laws for a performing arts district.

The new district, encompassing about thirty lots, including those of the roughly 37 acres of the Woodstock site, was conceptualized to “encourage and permit an orderly and planned development” of a performing arts center.

All development that happens within the new district will still be reviewed town’s planning board for site plan approval.

The review process for the performing arts center project began nearly 18 months ago. Since that time, the joint lead agency for the project, consisting of the town and planning boards, have reviewed over 1,000 pages of documentation and public comment. State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) documents, required by state law to examine the impacts of a project, comprised the bulk of the documentation.

The SEQR documentation contained analysis and plans from traffic flow to the history of the Woodstock site. These plans will serve as the basis for development within the district. The final version of the environmental impact statement was approved last month.

Long-term plans call for numerous performance venues, including outdoor and indoor stages with seating capacities in the thousands, a retail-oriented area, and eventually, a performing arts college.

There has been no announcement of a definite building schedule, but Bethel supervisor Alan Scott said he suspects ground will be broken in the spring of 2003.

Gerry Foundation Executive Director Jonathan Drapkin thanked the board for their work on the project. “Eighteen months certainly seems a long time,” he said.

Now that the general project plan and zoning change have been approved, the foundation will deal directly with the planning board in implementing the different phases of the building project.

Many details of the performing arts center project still need to be determined. The announcement of an architectural and design firm to replace Richard Meier, the well known architect initially attached to the project, has yet to be made. Also missing from the currently available documentation is an actual name for the performing arts center.

Scott said he feels secure in the benefits the performing arts center will bring to the town. “This is the kind of project we want here,” he said.

At the meeting, the board also:

  • Held a moment of silence for tax collector Maureen E. Whitney who died on December 2;
  • Thanked Jens Meyer and students from BOCES for repainting the senior center;
  • Announced that a settlement was made regarding a contested Itzkovich property assessment. The property was originally assessed at $491,800. A compromise was reached and the final assessment has been reduced to $410,000;
  • Set the town’s re-organizational meeting date for January 2. This meeting will take the place of the regularly scheduled meeting that would have taken place on January 9;
  • Appointed members of the town board, zoning board of appeals and planning board to a five-person review committee that will oversee the creation of the town’s new comprehensive plan; and
  • Announced that there will be no meeting on December 26. The year-end meeting, if needed, will take place on December 30.

What do you think? Talk about it on the discussion board!

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