CCLC is cool to Popsicle vendor | AspenTimes.com

CCLC is cool to Popsicle vendor

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s decision to experiment this summer with a mobile Popsicle vendor on city thoroughfares received a chilly reception from some members of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission on Wednesday.

One CCLC member is especially hot under the collar over the potential for a local couple to peddle their frozen treats on the downtown pedestrian malls.

“I think being on the mall is outrageous. I don’t think you should be on the mall, period,” member John Starr told Tom Alpern, who plans to operate The Popsicle Peddler with his wife, Therese. “I’m shocked at what the [City] Council did. I’m irritated. The mall is sacrosanct.”

Alpern is currently in the process of mapping out areas of town where the couple can peddle Popsicles without upsetting local businesses like the coffee and ice cream shops. The vending agreement he works out with City Manager Steve Barwick may or may not include the ability to operate on parts of the malls, he said.

Alpern came looking for the CCLC’s input, and he received an earful.

Commission members who were most staunchly opposed to opening the door to vending made it clear they had nothing against the Alperns in particular, but dislike the idea in general.

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Once the city allows one vendor, “the envelope will be constantly pushed,” member Jon Busch predicted, pondering what comes next.

Though Busch, too, said he doesn’t want to see vendors on the malls, he suggested the city give the Alperns free rein for the summer experiment. The couple should be allowed to peddle anywhere they want, he said.

“Let the chips fall. I think this is such a bad idea that the town’s going to come unglued,” Busch said.

Member Andrew Kole suggested the Alperns stick to bus stops, Iselin Park and Rio Grande Park. “Anything you do in town, somebody’s going to come up and bite you in the butt,” he said.

“I’m not endorsing this whole concept,” Kole added. “I’m not sure I like it at all.”

But commission member Eric Cohen said he isn’t convinced peddlers are a bad idea.

“Public sentiment seems to be in favor of it,” he said. “Who are we really hurting?”

It’s not local businesses paying $200 per square foot for space on the mall that the city protects by prohibiting outdoor vending, added member Charles Kennedy.

“I think we’re protecting the wrong people,” he said. “Who we’re really protecting is the landlord.”

“You’re exactly right, Charles,” chimed in member Terry Butler, who said she’d welcome a more vibrant atmosphere on the malls.

Though the City Council decided to experiment with a vending agreement for the Alperns’ pedal-powered Popsicle cart for the summer, council members agreed the broader issue of allowing street vendors in general will require a lot more debate.

The council asked the CCLC to consider the issue and offer its recommendations, but the commission didn’t actually debate the broader topic yesterday.

“Is it really timely for us to weigh in on this?” Starr asked. “I don’t think it’s a priority until it’s a priority for the council.”

As for The Popsicle Peddler, commission members ultimately advised Alpern that it’s not their place to offer input regarding his particular vending agreement with the city.

“The City Council made this mess, the City Council and Steve Barwick can clean it up,” said Bill Dinsmoor, commission chairman.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com.]