Update: Schuyler County officials say there are no plans for New York State Police representatives to attend the Feb. 11 Schuyler County Legislature meeting.
Special report provided by The Odessa File
The Dix Town Board called a Special Meeting Feb. 7 to discuss concerns — both their own and those expressed by various of their constituents — regarding the planned Woodstock 50 concert weekend planned in August at Watkins Glen International.
The meeting, poorly promoted and attracting only a handful of people, was urged by board member Dominick Smith after concerns from various residents prompted him to seek more information. WGI is located in the Town of Dix.
On hand to answer questions was Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes, whose message to the board was be patient until all of the necessary information is obtained.
Toward that end, he said, the Legislature at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, in the County Building will have on hand high-ranking members of the New York State Police to outline plans for the Woodstock weekend. Up to three such officials might be present, Barnes said, according to information available late Thursday afternoon.
The State Police, Barnes explained, will be in charge of security at the concert — with a large contingent of them on hand. Barnes said 500 troopers were being assigned. "The State Police will do whatever it takes to make this happen if it can be done safely," he said.
Ultimately, he said, the final go-ahead comes from the Schuyler Legislature — a rule installed as a result of the mayhem that marked the Summer Jam back in 1973, when an estimated 600,000 people showed up in Schuyler, clogged roadways and left an enormous mess.
Some area residents have expressed concern that another Summer Jam might happen in August — although unofficial word is that just 110,000 Woodstock tickets will be sold. At this point, there are unknown variables — such as the band lineup. Right now rumors of that lineup prevail; actual news is lacking.
Communication, Dix Board members said, has been less than stellar — but Barnes said with state agencies like the State Health Department and the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services involved, "they will reach out to appropriate local organizations" when "they know their needs. It's better to have them as lead agencies" than depend on much smaller local agencies.
He conceded that there are "a lot of misconceptions; things that I think just aren't true" regarding Woodstock 50. Education about the weekend is needed — with the Legislature meeting Monday a good starting point.
The Town Board's Smith said it was a lack of information that concerned him most — that and a lack of involvement on the part of Dix officials. Said Barnes: "In a perfect world, everybody would know their roles by now." But he suggested that the relatively short planning period has altered the natural planning order.
Whereas water and toilet issues have plagued some festivals — notably Woodstock 99 in Rome, New York, which devolved into looting and arson — "We've got to have faith in the State Health Department, hope they cross their T's and dot their I's," he said. In the meantime, he added, the public needs more information.
Beyond that, Town High Superintendent Scott Yaw expressed concern about the ability of town roads to withstand the onslaught of thousands of cars and of heavy Greyhound buses that will be used to transport people from Coopers Plains to the WGI track. He was also concerned about the lack of communication — and urged any residents with similar concerns to attend the Legislature session Monday.
Town Supervisor Harold Russell — rather than let the meeting meander — ended it, saying: "There are a bunch of ifs" involved in the Woodstock planning. "So I'm calling the meeting. See you Monday night, Phil."
Responded Barnes: "We just have to be objective and ferret out the facts."