VERNON, NY (CelebrityAccess) — The Oneida County sheriff on Monday said that he would be unable to guarantee public safety if Woodstock 50 takes place at Vernon Downs racetrack as festival organizers hope.
According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Sheriff Robert Maciol remarks came during a Vernon town board meeting, stating that with 38 days before the festival was scheduled to take place, there was insufficient time for to properly plan the event.
“It is impossible to ensure the safety of the public at this point,” Maciol told a crowd of about 100 local residents who attended the event. “If you’re asking me right now, I’m not confident in saying the public will be safe.”
Representatives from other local first responder organizations, including Kevin Revere, the emergency management director for Oneida County, sang a similar tune at the meeting, the Post-Standard reported.
“Any emergency management director will say there isn’t enough time to do this properly,” Revere said. “The less time you have to plan this stuff, the margin of error goes up tremendously.”
As well, issues were raised about permitting the festival, and Town attorney Vince Rossi said he had only learned about the festival’s permit application on Monday morning. According to the Post-Standard, Vernon requires that applications for a temporary event permit are required to be submitted 120 days in advance of the event, while the Woodstock 50 permit was filed on June 18th, which was only 59 days before the opening day of the festival.
Representatives for the festival attended the event as well and told the audience that the festival will only go ahead if the permits are granted.
“We’re applying for the permits now, and it’s up to the town and the people who live here. We’re not asking to do anything illegal. We simply would like a fair shot,” Susan Cronin, a spokesperson for the festival told the audience.
Cronin also revealed that festival organizers had dropped camping from the festival plan and that the hoped-for 65,000 attendees would have to leave the festival grounds each night and return the next day.
New York State health department spokeswoman Erin Silk said that the lack of camping frees Woodstock 50 from obtaining a mass gathering permit from the state.
A mass gathering is required for events attended by at least 5,000 people who stay at least 24 hours and requires extensive planning for traffic control and parking, food, drinking water, sanitation, public sleeping accommodations, food service, medical facilities, fire protection, mosquito control and other necessities for human habitation.
However, Woodstock 50 organizers are still required to submit plans for traffic, parking, sanitation, water supplies, security, lighting and first aid for their permits from the town, the Post-Standard reported.
Local residents expressed concern about congestion and illegal camping in light of the festival’s lack of sleeping accommodations.
Cronin said Woodstock 50 is planning to operate a system of shuttle buses with off-site parking and had reached a tentative agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation to provide additional parking.