Woodstock News

Some Woodstock neighbors don't want another muddy mess

By MICHAEL HILL Associated Press Writer

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (AP) -- Woodstock '94 hit here like a tie-dyed tidal wave, bringing some 350,000 revelers grooving in Aquarian bliss and moshing in mud pits.

When the wave receded, the 25th anniversary concert left this little Hudson Valley town with a pot of money, a pile of garbage and -- for some -- lingering resentment.

That resentment is emerging now that promoters are trying to follow through with a multiday 30th anniversary ``Woodstock '99'' festival here in July. Some don't want the hassle of hosting a city-sized crowd again. And they don't want another giant muddy mess left behind.

Some residents have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile, the town board and concert promoters have hit snags in negotiations over money. That has left it unclear as of this weekend whether Saugerties would even host the concert.

``There is a possibility that it's going elsewhere,'' said Ilene Marder, a spokeswoman for the promoters.

Saugerties Town Supervisor James Griffis said support for the concert runs about 50-50 locally. The concert-driven economic boom in August '94 and the town's $832,000 cut of proceeds from the three-day show was great -- it helped build a new town hall. Many here welcome a repeat bonanza with open arms. But not all think it's worth the hassle.

``There were people living in that area that didn't like 250,000 people wandering around the neighborhood,'' said William Mayer, an owner of two local McDonald's. Mayer, president of the Saugerties Business Association, has given qualified support to Woodstock '99.

One of the most vocal opponents is First Baptist Church Pastor Thaddeus Dragula, who said the last concert trampled on the constitutional rights of the townspeople. He said his flock could not go to church that Sunday without presenting a pass at a ``checkpoint Charlie.''

One woman had to postpone her husband's funeral until after the concert, he said.

Dragula's group, the Saugerties Alliance, maintains an Internet Web site featuring a horror-show gallery of pictures of Woodstock '94: revelers writhing in mud, sprawled out in stupors and walking around naked. Dragula said some of the bands didn't help matters.

``Some of them, their message was loud and clear,'' he said. ``One of the groups held up a marijuana joint, a doobie.''

Marder is quick to point out that even the state described the crowd as ``peaceful and convivial'' in a post-concert report. She said some 900 people have signed pro-Woodstock '99 petitions and claims opponents are little more than a vocal minority.

``I strongly believe the majority of the residents of the Town of Saugerties are in favor of another Woodstock,'' Marder said.

Dragula disputes that contention, and said his group would have no choice but to sue if the town grants a mass gathering permit.

But even that's up in the air as the town board is at loggerheads with promoters headed by Michael Lang, who was behind the first two Woodstock shows.

A sticking point is the town's demand that promoters place $150,000 in escrow for expected expenses. Promoters have balked, but Griffis said Friday that the majority of the board could agree to take less money upfront -- $25,000 -- to get talks moving again.

The olive branch comes as promoters held out the possibility of holding the concert at the abandoned Griffiss Air Force base in Rome, N.Y. Officials in that central New York city have been receptive to the idea of hosting the concert.

Shifting locations, after all, is a Woodstock tradition. Promoters of the original concert in 1969 tried to bring it to several locales, before finally getting permission to have the Who, Jimi Hendrix and dozens of other artists perform in Bethel, N.Y.

Lang moved the site north in 1994 to Saugerties, with the likes of Green Day and Aerosmith. This year, no acts have been announced yet.

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